I am once again stunned by the inefficiency and negligence of the Department of Justice in wake of today’s news that they will not be pursuing federal charges against Baton Rouge police officers Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni, who shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling last July.
I was hoping that of all cases, this one would result in some element of justice, however, it appears like that the trend continues. It is clear, from video of the incident, that this man should not have been shot and should still be alive today. People are so quick to shout about the right to keep and bear arms, yet this man, who had purchased a gun for his protection, was executed on site for having a weapon, so where is the right’s defense of Mr. Alton Sterling? Where are the gun activists? Where are the throngs of angry conservatives shouting about the second amendment? This man’s right to bear arms; his life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness; his right to a jury and speedy trial -those were taken from him and yet they are silent. We all know why; we know about the apathy towards black Americans and other minorities being shot and killed by police, we know they are automatically assumed to have done something wrong and convicted in the courts of the media and white public opinion. There are those who deny the significance of race in Alton Sterling’s death, but as someone who works in public safety along side police officers, as someone who has been detained at gunpoint before, I can clearly see the racial impact, not only in the shooting itself, but also in the public reaction, the investigation, and now, the results. This is not only about one man’s death, it is about how common place this is. This is not anti-police, actually it is the opposite, it is about holding officers and departments accountable to assure the credibility of police.
This is a sad day for America, another name has been added to the list of injustice, with more names sure to come. When does it end? When will we be able to reassure our black children, youth, and even the 37-year-old man selling CDs at the convenience store or cigarettes on the street, that they can trust law enforcement and feel safe when approached? That they will be given the respect they deserve and that they will be innocent until proven guilty?
Now, we await the State of Louisiana’s decision as to whether or not they will pursue charges - I hope they do, and I hope some element of justice is served.
My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Alton Sterling who have had to see this play out over the last 10 months, with much more to come. I wish peace for the community and safety for those within. And for the rest of us, the observers across the country, and across the world, inform yourself, speak up and speak out, we cannot allow this to quietly go away.