How To Protest Alton Sterling's Death, Peacefully & Passionately
As Baton Rouge authorities investigate two police officers' fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, heartbroken Americans are protesting his death. According to a police statement published on Facebook, two officers arrived at a Triple S Food Mart early Tuesday morning after an individual claimed that a black man in a red T-shirt selling CDs had threatened him outside of the store with a gun. "An altercation between Sterling and the officers ensued ... Sterling was shot during the altercation and died at the scene." A witness video of the incident has enraged the public, raising serious questions regarding the officers' decision to kill the pinned-down man just minutes after arriving on the scene. Police in the department are required to wear body cameras, but officials claimed that both officers' cameras had fallen off.
As one officer kneels on top of Sterling, he yells, "He's got a gun." Gunshots are heard moments later. Store owner Abdullah Muflahi said that Sterling was armed, but was not reaching for his pocketed gun at the time. Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond requested that the Department of Justice investigate the death. He told the public in a statement that he shares their anger and grief:
The video footage released today of the shooting of Alton Sterling by officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community. I share in this anger and join the community in the pursuit of justice. My prayers and thoughts are with Mr. Sterling’s family as they deal with this tragedy.
Here are some ways you can speak out against the officers' actions and show that Sterling's life will not be forgotten.
1) Petition #1
A petition addressed to President Barack Obama seeks to put an end to police brutality. "We are humans with beating hearts that are bleeding from the treatment of our ancestors and relatives TODAY," it reads." We want Justice for Mr. Sterling, as well as the PAST AND FUTURE Mr. Sterlings!" One supporter, Steven O'Hara, claimed that the officers' killing of Sterling was an execution. "The police are there to protect us, not kill us," it says. "White, black, hispanic, whatever - equal protection under the law." You can sign here.
2) Petition #2
This petition asks that the Department of Justice open an investigation into the two officers who killed Sterling, pleading that they be suspended without pay. "Please do not allow this travesty of Justice to be mishandled," it reads. You can access it here.
3) Social Media
A handful of celebrities, including Zendaya, Amy Schumer, Andy Richter, and Sherri Shepherd, have spoken out against Sterling's death. Use the hashtags #AltonSterling and BlackLivesMatter. A simple tweet can raise awareness and encourage others to protest.
4) Protest At Baton Rouge City Hall
If you're a Baton Rouge local, there are a number of protest you can attend throughout the area. Some are outside of City Hall, others in the street, and some in front of the Triple S outside of which Sterling was killed.
5) Write To The Baton Rouge Police Department
The department will hold a press conference on Sterling's death at 11 a.m. If you are unsatisfied with the way they're handling the investigation, a letter is completely warranted.
6) Organize A Protest
For those who don't live near Baton Rouge, organizing your own protest is a viable option, especially if you live in a college town or busy city where scores of passersby will hear your message.