Alton Sterling should be alive today.
He should be at the half-way house where he lived. Or having a conversation with his children. Or maybe in front of the Triple S Convenience store selling his CD’s.
But he should be alive.
Instead, Alton Sterling is dead. Shot by a police officer in an incident sparked by an anonymous caller that purported that Sterling had been acting in a ‘threatening’ manner.
The facts are well-known. Alton Sterling, was allegedly tased, then as he was thrown over the hood of a car, then to the ground, one of the officers said, ‘He’s got a gun.’ After which another officer, pulls out his service weapon, firing at least four times at point black range, while they had Sterling pinned to the ground.
I believe all black people are as angry about this as I am. That could be true. Maybe it’s not. But Alton Sterling did not go home on July 5th. Instead he became a statistic: Sterling’s death makes him one of between 122 -135 black people killed by police to date.
Protests have begun. As have calls for the resignations of the chief of police and the mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Justice Department is being called in to investigate and right now, all the right things are being said by people in power.
But I, along with millions of other black people in this country, are waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s the way it always happens. A black man dies unarmed, allegedly resisting arrest and there are immediate speculation as to how he was complicit in his own demise. We are all set to hear the ‘thugification’ of Alton Sterling and the vilification of the Black Lives Matter movement (of course, all lives matter – but we seem to be the only ones losing our lives). The people who do that, are those who seek to so objectify the victim and so distance themselves from any sense of guilt, responsibility, compassion or empathy, so that they can live with it by saying, ‘It’s all they’re fault’.
There will be the perverse litany of ‘reasons’ why Alton’s death was all his fault:
He was an ex-con
Why was he out so late
He shouldn’t have attacked them; he asked for it
What was he doing there; why wasn’t he at home
The problem is on the night he was killed. On the night that Alton Sterling’s life was brutally snatched from him, he just didn’t deserve to die. Not that way. Not pinned down and shot at point-blank range. Not at the hands of police who are sworn to ‘protect and serve’.
Alton Sterling should be alive today…