Another Black Man Is Killed by Police & His Son Cannot Escape the Horrific Truth

Protest photo

Some time in the past couple of years, it seems to have become part of my day-to-day life to hear about the senseless murdering of my black peers. Of course, like many, I had been (naively) under the impression that this kind of discrimination was behind us, until it suddenly wasn't. The thing is, though, that it never left. It never ended. And now, with advances in media, we're able to receive the news quicker and far more visually -- perhaps even too visually at times. I say this because yet another black man was shot to death, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana ... by the local police, of course (because who else?) ... and his family -- namely his weeping 15-year-old son -- has been bombarded by the gruesome uncut footage of this man's unnecessary death.

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The family was able to watch as Alton Sterling, a father of five, was held with great force and then shot to death in the chest and back, while he begged for his life. Allegedly, while Sterling had been outside a convience store selling CDs for income, there had been a call made suggesting that Sterling was threatening someone with his gun. However, the owner of the convenience store revealed that he never saw the gun, and police later said that they had to remove said gun, which Sterling was not holding, from his pocket.

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Honestly, it doesn't matter if he had a gun or that there was possibly an altercation before the police arrived -- police (or anyone for that matter) cannot go around shooting people based on hearsay. They cannot go shooting people without any indication of a real threat. It's just that simple.

Fortunately, there had been witnesses who recorded a good portion of the incident. They, out of necessity, released the video to the public so it could be shared by the media and on Facebook, where I first viewed the raw footage. I call the action necessary because this footage was the only way to even begin to reveal that man's truth, considering he's no longer alive to do so on his own.

However, making it necessary doesn't make it any less heartbreaking that Sterling's 15 year-old-son Cameron was forced to watch the footage of his dad as he was slaughtered like a pig who no longer served a purpose. This is the unfortunate result of having to take justice into our own hands.

"He had to watch this as this was put all over the outlets," Cameron's mother told reporters in a heartfelt statement at a media conference. "As a mother I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father."

To know that one more black child, or, in this case, five children, must learn to exist -- must learn to be men or women -- without their father around to guide them ... well, it's heartbreaking. 

To witness one more black family being ripped apart by systematic racism that has inevitably led to what you can call the genocide of our people. That is heartbreaking.

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Sadly, the witnesses behind the camera knew like I know that law enforcement would inevitably find a way to bury that video -- to bury his family's shot at justice.

And the real tragedy is that we truly don't have to wait for the cause of death to come back because regardless of what it says, little to nothing will be done -- despite the evidence shown in the recorded footage.

It's like Jesse Williams wrote while addressing a previous altercation:

Even with videotaped evidence of police destroying black people, many freedom-loving Americans remain unconvinced of a systemic problem. Maybe some day the perfect tape will be released, one in which the dead or maimed African American has just the right wardrobe, complexion, size and diction to warrant empathy.

Governor John Bel Edwards revealed during a press conference that he has "full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly," but we don't -- not anymore -- not after Eric, Tamir, or Sandra never saw justice. Sorry, we just don't have any faith that our justice system will handle this accordingly -- despite the Justice Department's opening up a civil rights investigation and the officers' being placed on administrative leave. We are holding on to hope that if enough people see this awful footage, we'll finally have enough of our own people willing and ready to fight, as Malcolm X once said, "by any means necessary."

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Fight to make sure not another child loses his father to police brutality. To ensure that not another young man is forced to grow up without a father. To ensure that that child never has to relive the gruesome death of his father in order for there to be the slightest chance of justice.  

So while I'm sure they will try to spin Sterling's standing still as a need for these officers to somehow protect themselves, hear me when I say, the justice system has failed us one time too many, and now we're protesting, speaking out, and making everyone within and outside our community aware. We're doing what's necessary to protect ourselves -- to protect our people. 

 

Image via ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty

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