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Please Stop Killing Us: Police Brutality in America

 

Alton Sterling

Law enforcement is back at it again with the police brutality and in the wake of tragic events, I can only wonder when this suffering will finally end once and for all.

Yesterday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alton Sterling was shot by the very people that were called to protect. The Baton Rouge police were called to a local convenience store where Sterling was selling CDs outside the doors. Allegedly, the police were responding to reports that Sterling threatened bystanders with the claim that he possessed a firearm. Whether this claim rings true or was just the product of unjustified paranoia, we still do not know. What we do know is that the police proceeded to tackle and restrain Sterling on the cold hard cement outside the store, disregarding the several apprehensive watching eyes and observant video cameras pointed straight at the altercation, ready to record the tragedy that was sure to follow. And tragedy it was, the officer shot Sterling dead and just like that another black life was taken from this troubled world. In the matter of mere seconds, a father was eternally separated from his five children. A husband was taken from his wife, a son from his mother.

The catch is, the altercation happened to be caught on tape and has been brought to the attention of thousands maybe millions around the world. Via the shaky video, we see Sterling pinned to the ground. We see the officers on top of him. We do not see a gun in Sterling’s possession. We do see a gun in the officer’s hand. We see Sterling struggle, we hear a gunshot, and then everything is still.



The video was leaked to various news sources, and even I saw the altercation this morning at breakfast. And I may be biased, I know that the video only shows part of the full story. I know that being a police officer is an extremely difficult task. I know that a lot of judgment and assessment must have taken place leading up to the fatal climax. I know that mistakes happen. But that man did not look like he posed a threat. He was detained on the ground, for goodness sake! I have a hard time believing that a bullet was the only way to disarm the situation, I’m sorry but I just can’t believe that.

A criminal investigation is underway and we can only hope that justice will be served. Although, in the past, we have been  disappointed in the way the criminal justice system handles cases that involve police brutality. From Freddie Gray to Mike Brown to Sandra Bland, to Trayvon Martin, to Tamir Rice, the odds of being satisfied with whatever verdict that is delivered with any investigation seems very low. So for now, we will have to accept the administrative leave that the officers are on, and pray that this is enough.

Yesterday, hours before Sterling was shot dead, miles away in Florida, my father was pulled over by a white officer. And every moment that my father spent under the scrutiny of the officer felt like years. I know what kind of power that these people own, and it’s truly terrifying. Unfortuanalty, where my father walked away, Sterling did not, and that is not okay. Both Sterling and my father should have been able to return home to their families. But instead, the last memory of Sterling that his family is left with is a low-quality video that portrays his death. In a public address, the family opened up to the world about the heartache that Sterling’s death brought and as his fifteen-year-old son cried over the death of his father, wailing that he wanted his daddy back, I cried too.

We’ve said before that black lives matter. We’ve begged for justice and equality and safety, but it’s hard to believe that our efforts are going noticed, because we continue to be discriminated against, and killed in cold blood without any repercussions. When will this nightmare be over, because I don’t think we can take much more. May you rest in peace, Alton Sterling, I’m so sorry that we’ve failed you and so many others.

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Nyah Hardmon
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Nyah lives in Miami, FL where she studies journalism and creative writing - any questions, comments, or concerns can be sent to nhardmon@affinitymagazine.us.

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