All the facts aren’t in yet regarding the case of the killing by police of yet another black man, Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, but we know that without the video evidence available, this case would go down like nearly all have in the past: no one would be held accountable. In fact, even with the video evidence it is more than likely that the two police officers involved, even if one or both actually committed a crime, will escape prosecution. That’s just the way it usually works when cops kill black folks in America.
We also know, sadly, that reactionaries in our society will go out of their way to grossly smear Alton Sterling, who had a criminal record of some kind, but was also a 37-year-old father who, at least judging by the video we have all seen by now, didn’t deserve what happened to him early Tuesday morning. He reportedly had sold homemade CDs for years at the convenience store where he was killed.
Here’s something to consider: by all accounts, Sterling was well-known in the neighborhood where he was killed. Maybe the two cops who tangled with him knew him. I’m betting they didn’t. At least very well. And if they didn’t know him well or at all, whose fault is that? Isn’t that part of policing? Knowing your community, especially folks out late at night routinely selling CDs in front of a convenience store?
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has taken over the case. The Governor of Lousiana, John Bel Edwards, says he has “very serious concerns” and that “the video is disturbing, to say the least.” Yes. It is disturbing. And depressing. I posted it below because, as many times as you may have seen this or similar videos, we need to keep seeing this stuff until we figure out what we can actually do about it besides wring our hands.