The gruesome pictures of two black men killed by police officers—one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the other in Minnesota—being parading in the media are the latest reminder of how life of a black person in America means nothing in the eyes of a white cop. The bloody pictures evoke a chocking truth that has long been hunting black America to no end. The first one is 37-year old Alton Sterling, a father of 5 children, who lies face up—his eyes widened, glassy and stilled as fresh blood gushes out of a gunshot wound in his heart.
The other is 32-year old Philando Castile, an agonizing man whose white T-shirt is coated in fresh blood. He was cross-eyed and obviously unable to reply to his fiancée who kept asking him to fight for his life. He later died in a Minnesota hospital. The man died doing precisely what he was told. He was getting out his driver’s license and his car registration as the cop, who pulled him over, ordered him to. Apparently, this wasn’t good enough for this racist cop who took out his gun and pulled the trigger, unleashing 4 bullets into the body of this defenseless black man.
The story is not new. The stage is not new. The demographic picture is not also new: an armed police officer unloading his gun on a defenseless black person. The man in Baton Rouge, according to eyewitnesses, was simply a street vendor selling CDs in front of a convenient store. His wife and child later confirmed this at a news conference. The question is this: How many more crimes like these we’ll have to witness before something is done? While we understand the vast majority of police officers are law binding individuals, we must agree that police departments across the country are infested with criminals in uniforms; and it is not hard to find them.
While Sterling did own a gun and was apparently carrying it, which is legal in Louisiana, store owner Abdullah Muflahi disputed the accusation that Sterling was aggressive. He later told CNN that he did not hear Sterling get in an altercation with anybody. “Just five minutes before, he walked into the store getting something to drink, joking around, [and we were] calling each other names,” Muflahi said.
What happened next was captured on cell phone video by eyewitnesses in a nearby parked car. (A second video was released yesterday.) “The officers shot Sterling with a taser and wrestled him violently to the ground. Then, while he was pinned to the ground by the two officers, one of them shouted, “He’s got a gun!” This prompted them to pump several rounds into Sterling from point blank range while he lay in a prone and subdued position on the pavement.
This brings the number of people to have died this year in police custody to 597, according to the web site Killed-by-Police. The brutal death of Sterling as well as that of Castile follows a long chain of high-profile police killings, including of Eric Garner in Staten Island on July 17, 2014; Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014; 12 year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio on November 22, 2014; Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina on April 4, 2015; and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on April 19, 2015.
The Obama administration usually responds to these high-profile police killings by backing the repressive machine while pledging police “reform.” As the killing exacerbates, the corporate media largely ignore it. Albeit Bernie Sanders, no presidential candidates have made this a serious issue during this election cycle. President Obama, in a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, reiterated his complacent statement that “America is really great [right now].” The killing of Alton Sterling, which occurred only hours before, exposes the brutal reality of class relations in the United States.
They can say all they want about these hideous crimes, until steps are made to do away with institutional racism, the killing will simply continue.
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