As unfortunate as it may be, protests against racist police brutality are becoming all too common. This week, people all over the country took to the streets to protest the murder of Alton Sterling, a Black man killed by police while pinned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Early Tuesday morning, officers Blaise Salamoni and Howie Lake II of the Baton Rouge Police Department responded to a call at a convenience store about a man fitting Sterling's description — a call which ended in Sterling dead in a pool of his own blood. Bystander footage of Sterling's death went viral, and showed the officers both pinning him to the ground when one of them shouted "He's got a gun!" and then shot him at point-blank range. A second video released on Wednesday shows one of the officers pulling something out of Sterling's pocket after they shot and immobilized him.
The public response to Sterling's murder has been swift: Amid calls of police brutality and Sterling's family speaking out on national television, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the case and taking it over from the Baton Rouge PD.
Since news of Sterling's death and subsequent video footage went viral Tuesday, people have been protesting to express their grief, fear, outrage and mourning at the most recent Black man killed by excessive (and lethal) police force.
On Wednesday afternoon, protesters gathered in Downtown Oakland to fight for justice for Sterling and numerous other Black and brown people killed by police.
Protesters took to the Center City district of Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon with planned disruptions of traffic. After a few hours, police moved in and began to try to disperse them, arresting a dozen people.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
People gathered both at the scene of Sterling's death and nearby in Baton Rouge to protest his killing on their home turf. Baton Rouge residents were seen taking care of their own by giving water to the protesters who were out in the Louisiana heat, and a brass band came by to lighten the mood.
As news stories show the anger and violence associated with protests like these, it's important to take a nuanced look at both the arrests and the everyday acts of kindness that those of us who attend protests know exist in equal measure. These responses are never as cut-and-dry as some would like us to believe.