Hoodies and Skittles. A BB gun mistaken for a real gun. A severed spine gone wrong. A man who couldn’t catch his breath.
Now, the sound of music has been silenced permanently.
Alton Sterling, a 37-year old man, was gunned down July 5 by two police officers at the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The incident was caught on video.
Police received a distressed call from someone at the convenience store, saying that “a Black male who was selling music [CD’s] and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun,” according to NPR.
The store owner, Abdullah Muflahi, saw the whole altercation unravel before him while he stood two feet away from the scene. The two officers, Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake II, pinned Sterling down, and “fired four to six shots into Sterling’s chest,” said Muflahi to theadvocate.com.
He also said that even though Sterling was carrying a weapon while he was pinned down, “his hand was nowhere near his pocket.” He did not attempt to hurt those police officers. Muflahi added that “they were really aggressive with him from the start,” to theadvocate.com.
The officers have been placed on administrative leave and “the U.S attorney’s office in Baton Rouge, the FBI and State Police also will be involved in the investigation,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to CNN.
But now, months after this horrible fatality occurred, the Justice Department has decided not to press charges on the officers involved in Sterling’s death.
“The case will be the first time under Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department has publicly declined to prosecute officers investigated for possible wrongdoing in a high-profile case, and officials in Baton Rouge have been girding for a possible reaction there,” according to the Washington Post.
This outrageous event has caused protests to erupt nationwide. This is the “505th fatal police shooting by an on-duty officer in 2016,” according to the Fatal Force database, created by the Washington Post to track shootings based on news reports.
The Black Lives Matter movement grows stronger now that this incident has occurred and more people have grown restless with anger and outcry. It seems that the carelessness with which black lives are treated is becoming more evident, as more and more of these events surface.
Even as there are changes that have occurred within the police force, like having to carry body cameras, that has not stopped the violence or the countless lives that have been lost in the process. The changes have made violence accessible to those who seek it.
Young black men and women are losing their lives left and right with no probable cause and no sense of justice for them and their families.
How careful does an African American have to be to maneuver in this life without police brutality? What does a black person need to do in order to be entitled to his or her own life? We look over our shoulders in fear, trying to walk a straight path without diverging but it does not suffice. Sometimes, I think it never will.
If we do not take the necessary steps to bring forth change and spread awareness about what is occurring today, and find solutions to this prominent issue, more damage will take place.
Something needs to be done in order to ensure the future of black lives before their future gets taken away from them.