As more information becomes available about the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, it's becoming clear that he was killed in cold blood, and not because he was an active threat to police.
Recordings from eyewitnesses, which offer multiple angles to the shooting, have clearly shown that Sterling did not have a gun in his hands when he was shot six times in the chest and back. The gun he carried was removed from his pocket after he was dead. Thousands have taken to the streets of Baton Rouge to protest the latest murder in a seemingly endless string of young dead Black men at the hands of police.
The latest video to be released was reportedly recorded by Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the convenience store in front of which Sterling was fatally shot. The video shows Sterling pinned on the ground by the two officers. One of the officers then yells, “He’s got a gun!” He then tells Sterling, “If you f***ing move, I swear to God!” One of the officers then can be heard saying what appears to be, “He’s going for the gun!
The first shots are heard, and then after a brief moment, more are heard. When the camera pans up, Sterling is covered in blood and dying.
Warning: This video contains very disturbing content.
Now the city of Baton Rouge has erupted in protests, where thousands of residents have taken to the streets, and flooded the areas surrounding the scene of the crime to express their anger. Demonstrators are voicing their fear that their son, or brother, or father might be the next victim of a police shooting. "I have got an 11-year-old son and I don't want him to have to live his life feeling scared the police might shoot him," one protester, Ashley Jones, said.
One protester who knew Sterling said, "All he wanted to do was feed his family and for them to be proud of him. He was trying his best. He didn't deserve to die like that."
Protesters are chanting and waving signs with familiar Black Lives Matter slogans, "Hands up, don't shoot," "Not my son," and "Stop killing us." "The police are scaring us with their hysteria and killing of young Black men, when they should be protecting us," another protester said.
No police were at the organized protest and vigil that took place on Wednesday night.
An unsung hero of this tragic event is store owner Muflahi, who said he kept the footage on his phone because he was afraid the police would take it. "They took my security camera videos. They told me that they had a warrant but didn't show me one. So I kept this video for myself. Otherwise, what proof do I have?" He told New York Daily News that he and Sterling had been friends for six years and that Sterling had bought the firearm days earlier to protect himself after hearing that other CD sellers had been robbed in nearby areas.
The sadness and rage is entirely justified as more and more people come forward clarifying the fact that this was not a justified killing. This was a murder at the hands of the Baton Rouge police.
It is our job, as a community and a nation, to fight to ensure that Alton Sterling's death, and the deaths of the many Black men and women at the hands of the police before him, is not in vain.
(Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)
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