How the Killing of Alton Sterling Has Brought Attention to Baton Rouge's Segregation Issues

His death highlights a problem that is decades deep.

The killing of Alton Sterling has erupted in major protests and conversations all over the country. As a result of examining the specifics of Sterling before and after the shooting, new information has revealed a deeply rooted racial and economic segregation issue in Baton Rouge.

Near the Triple S Food Mart where Sterling sold CDs and was killed, several abandoned buildings represent what used to be thriving businesses.

Alton Sterling was a prime example the economic misgivings that faced Baton Rouge. As someone with a criminal record, Sterling had little to no chance of getting a job with the few companies left in Baton Rouge with the economic stability to hire new employees. Thus, selling CDs on the street was a necessity.

Of course the entire city of Baton Rouge is not this way. In fact, the city boasts multiple natural resources and manufacturing sectors that help aid the local economy. However, these areas are located in the predominately white, southern area of the city. The northern half of the city is a predominately Black area, and the money gained from the resources never seemed to reach this part of the city.

Thus, the city itself is segregated by race and ultimately by class. This prompted many to speak on this issue during protests and meetings held after Sterling’s death. Lee Wesley, of the Community Baptist Church, spoke during an interfaith coalition called Together Baton Rouge.

“This agenda must include economic development,” Wesley told the crowd. “It must include not only working on the symptoms of poverty but the causes of poverty.”

Members of the community are making a push for support of more Black-owned businesses to counter the money being channeled from the north side of Baton Rouge. Together Baton Rouge will be working to create an agenda to have a major effect on the upcoming elections. 

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