Photo Courtesy of ABC News
Struggles for Justice has to comment upon the killing of a family man selling CD’s with the permission of the store owner operating where he was. That same store owner insists that Sterling was not armed and never waved a gun at anybody.
Two witnesses by their cell phone video were close up in the parking lot of the store. They were in a car. Though the video quality is not all that good, it is clear that Sterling was grabbed by two police officers, wrestled to the ground with force, had his arms pinned and then one officer is clearly seen pulling his weapon and shooting the man point blank multiple times. There were on the video audio portion at least four shots maybe more.
If Sterling was armed with a gun in his pants this was even more than excessive force. It was outright murder. A legalized lynching, police officers in Baton Rouge where like in so many cities in America; Black lives matter not at all. If Sterling had a gun his arms and his body were pinned and the officer who claimed to see a gun could have used the free hand he employed to shoot Sterling to remove the gun from his clothing and render him harmless.
What if this man were white? This is addressed to white America. Think on it.
Black America, the United States citizens of color, know well that even if you are obeying the law, not harming anyone, and not doing anything outside the law, you can be killed by police or vigilantes at any time. Black parents all have “the talk” with their children. Too often these days it isn’t enough. Those parents are now the victims themselves. Sterling had five children and a wife whom he loved. He was an on duty father and supported his family as best he could. The family, already making pleas on television are all as you would expect, devastated.
Baton Rouge, like all of Louisiana, is an open carry State. So the presence of a gun spotted by one of the officers would not constitute or ought not to constitute a direct threat requiring the force that was used. Were the murdered man white, they would have politely asked him to show a permit for the gun. Perhaps they would not have asked at all, and bade him a good night.
Police negotiated for an hour and more with the man that last year attacked a Planned Parenthood women’s reproductive health clinic, murdered several people inside the clinic. Anyone can see that the manner in which black Americans are treated is glaringly and grossly contrary to how white suspects or people are treated.
The steady drumbeat of the killings of black people who do not pose a level of threat requiring deadly force, revealed by cell phone technology, should wake us all up to the injustice. We should be empathizing with the family and the community.
Too often white Americans assume that police officers would not have shot all the people they shoot if their very lives were not in danger. This did not happen in the case of Sterling Alton. He never had the gun out, if there really was a gun, and again we note his arms and body were pinned as tight as a human body can be pinned. The officer doing the shooting had the ability to use one hand to get his gun and kill the man. Why couldn’t he spare the man’s life, use that hand to slide the gun out of his pocket where he says he felt the gun.
There are too many of these cases. Even 11-year-old children are gunned down within just two heart beats in Cleveland, where instead of setting up a perimeter as back up arrived and shielding themselves and getting on their car’s speaker and asking any bystanders to get back they murdered the kid.
It is not a matter of discrediting and blaming the victim as having a criminal record of some kind, often of petty crime; sometimes not at all. It is as if there is no level of force less than murder when it is an African-American involved. Black America would tell white America this has been reality all along. Only now with cell phone technology bystanders can record these brutalities.
A large part of the problem is that white America, and sometimes even officers of color, regard a person with a black or brown or red skin as more of a threat than white Americans in similar situations. The perception is built on old racist stereotypes of black people as beasts, thugs, predators, and criminals.
558 Americans have been shot by our police just this year so far. The overwhelming majority are good, clean shoots, but hundreds of them are not. This does not include deaths of people of color, where states have stand your ground laws that give aggressors a ready excuse to prey upon people they know are not perceived in the first place as being worthy of protection under the law.
Whether it is white privilege or outright white supremacist ideology, this nation has yet to even achieve equal treatment under the law, and respect for the principle our nation was founded upon; all men are created equal. The shooting and murder of Alton Sterling is a prime example of Lynching 2.0.