Philando Castile & Alton Sterling Protests Remind The Nation Something It Can't Afford To Forget Again
Early Tuesday morning, Alton Sterling was pinned down by two policemen and shot in Louisiana. Hundreds of miles away in Minnesota and less than 48 hours later, Philando Castile was shot by a policeman before he was able to unbuckle his seat belt. In response, the nation is protesting the injustice suffered by both Sterling and Castile. Their deaths are an eye-opener for Americans who naively believe that discrimination has been rooted out of our society. The protests that accompany them each share the same sentiment: Something needs to be done.
Along with the deaths of dozens of other innocent black men shot by police over the past few years, these tragedies lend immediacy to the calls for change. Though the protests are successful in educating others and fostering understanding, concrete changes have yet to be made or are being only "considered." Will the current protests be effective this time around?
Since Tuesday morning, protesters have gathered around the Triple S Mart in Baton Rouge where Sterling was shot multiple times while selling CDs. According to the BBC, many protesters were heard shouting "black lives matter" in representation of a movement that has strengthened as these tragedies continue to occur. BBC's Laura Bicker visited the scene and said that, sadly, most protesters don't expect authority figures to bring about justice or listen to their pleas. One man named Arthur Reed said, "We are not anti-police, we are anti-injustice."
The federal government reacted, and the Justice Department's civil rights division will be investigating Sterling's death and has promised that the details will be made transparent to the public. A similar investigation has also been launched for Castile, whose death was filmed by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds. The live-streamed video went viral and has sparked a series of protests in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. After protesters began rallying outside of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's home, he stepped out and made a statement, promising, "I will do everything in my power to help protect the integrity of that investigation, to ensure a proper and just outcome for all involved.”
On Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama posted a statement to Facebook concerning the two men's deaths. Though he didn't offer a new solution to the systematic problem, he encouraged Americans to stand together in unity.