The officers who killed Alton Sterling won’t be charged, and Twitter is rightfully outraged
Less than a week ago, on March 22nd, Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets of Sacramento to protest the death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot by police. But today, March 27th, a different police shooting was in the news. The state of Louisiana announced that officers responsible for the death of Alton Sterling in 2016 will not be charged.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry ruled today that the two Baton Rouge officers who shot Sterling in 2016 acted in a “reasonable and justifiable manner,” saying that no charges will be filed against the men.
On the night of Sterling’s death, the two officers were called to a convenience store to respond to a report of a black man armed with a gun. Sterling had been standing outside the store selling CDs. Footage of the shooting showed the officers holding Sterling down while yelling that he had a gun. One of the officers shot Sterling six times in the chest and the back. Sterling was the father of five children. It’s not clear whether Sterling was actually armed.
At a news conference, Sterling’s aunt, Sandra Sterling, called her nephew’s death a murder.
"You put a killer back on the streets," she said, addressing the attorney general. "I'm going to get justice from a higher power."
Twitter users were outraged with the decision.
As some pointed out, white police officers are rarely indicted when it comes to the shootings of black men.
Gun violence was also a topic in the wake of the ruling.
And others cited deaths like Sterling’s as the reason NFL players have been protesting.
In May 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice closed its investigation into Sterling’s death, saying that there was not enough evidence to file civil rights charges against the officers involved.
A 2017 study from Bowling Green State University found that in the 80 police shootings since 2005, officers were charged and convicted 35 percent of the time, so the lack of charges in Sterling’s case is not an isolated incident. But something needs to change. Unarmed civilians like Sterling should not be killed by police officers. We need to end police brutality.