Footage filmed by the owner of the convenience store, Abdullah Muflahi emerged showing 37-year-old Alton Sterling being wrestled to the ground and struggling with Baton Rouge officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake. Sterling was selling CD’s outside when a confrontation broke out, Sterling was then brutally shot multiple times. The footage shows Sterling lying in a pool of blood and an officer then reaching into Sterling’s pocket and taking a firearm out. Muflahi said “I was just in shock…They shot him three times, and rolled off of him. Then they shot him three more times…That’s his gun they are taking out of his pocket.” Muflahi added, “As soon as I finished the video, I put my phone in my pocket. I knew they would take it from me, if they knew I had it. They took my security camera videos. They told me they had a warrant, but didn’t show me one. So I kept this video for myself. Otherwise, what proof do I have?”
Just days after the fatal killing of Sterling, footage emerged of the aftermath of the killing of 32-year-old Philando Castile. Castile was pulled over for a traffic stop and shot by a police officer in ‘Falcon Heights’, ‘Minnesota’, on Wednesday evening. Castile’s Girlfriend Diamond Reynolds – whom filmed the aftermath live – was stopped with her boyfriend for allegedly having a broken taillight. According to Reynolds, Castile warned the officer he was carrying a weapon but that he had a license and he was getting his ID. Reynolds said her boyfriend was told not to move, but when Castile raised his hands back in the air, the officer shot him several times in the arm. Reynolds said “He just shot his arm off,”Castile and Reynolds‘ 4-year-old daughter was in the car at the time of the horrific attack.
Police brutality is nothing new in ‘America‘ but since the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012 and through the use of social media there has been more awareness around the atrocities and injustices taking place. The Black Lives Matter movement began after the killing of Trayvon Martin, where George Zimmerman was found not guilty for his crime and although Martin was dead, he was put on trial for his murder. Sanford Police said there was no evidence to prove that Zimmerman wasn’t acting in self-defense although Martin wasn’t carrying a weapon, but wound up getting killed. This was an attack on an innocent unarmed black man who was accused of acting suspicious by Zimmerman because he walked in to a neighborhood that had several robberies that year.
African Americans are twice as likely to be unarmed during police encounters than white people. Some of the most high profiled cases were Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, but these are only a small amount of those killed at the hands of law enforcement in ‘America’. These are innocent people who have been stopped for minor offences that resulted in excessive force being used almost immediately. There are many other civilized countries who don’t have a problem with gun control. In ‘England’ for example no guns are used and other methods are used to resolve altercations. Some may say that other races are killed too, this is true but it is nowhere near as high, as the amount of unarmed African-Americans that are being killed by law enforcement.
According to Mapping Police Violence 98% of these killings didn’t result in an officer being charged. This clearly shows the injustice within the legal system. Census data in 2000 revealed the racial disproportion in the prisons, showing that the amount of black people incarcerated exceeded the amount among state residents in twenty states. It may be okay in ‘America’ to own guns and for police to protect themselves using necessary force, but in so many cases unnecessary force is being used and without a short arrest or even a moment in between stopping, innocent African American people are killed. How can this be justified? Whether someone is in law enforcement or not, how can so many killings result in hardly any arrests? According to a report from the Washington Post black people were killed at three times the rate of white people or other minorities. It may not be a direct form of racism, but this is what is called institutionalized racism where there is an injustice in the system based on someone’s race. With more and more awareness spreading and movements such as Black Lives Matter hopefully these atrocities can be stopped and injustices within the law and issues around gun control can be addressed.
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