The first summer I started writing for Gurl.com was the summer of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Police brutality (or, in that case, wannabe police) certainly wasn’t new, but social media helped turn a story that could have stayed relatively unknown in some local Florida paper, into an international one. I wrote about the social media reactions, about how Trayvon’s death hit close to home as a black woman, and kept it moving. I didn’t expect to write another post the next summer about Mike Brown, or about Eric Garner. I didn’t expect to write about the Spring Valley incident, in which a black teen girl was violently thrown to the ground by a school officer, and I didn’t expect to write about the Baltimore Riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death either. And who could forget Sandra Bland? But here I am again, with another post, about another black person who was killed by the police. Last night, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officer. He leaves behind a wife and children.
We’re still waiting for more details to emerge, including whether or not Sterling had a gun on his person and whether he truly threatened someone with it, which allegedly prompted the 911 call. But from the video that emerged, it’s pretty clear that Sterling was pinned to the ground by the officers when one of them shouted “He’s got a gun!” before and shooting Sterling multiple times. How a police officer felt as if his life was in immediate danger when Sterling was pinned, I’m not sure. But aren’t police officers supposed to de-escalate situations and attempt to disarm suspects instead of shooting them in the chest? My cynical side says, “Pfft, not if you’re black!” and I won’t apologize for it. On top of that, the police officers’ body cameras allegedly fell off during the scuffle, so the only video proof we have of the incident was from a spectator. What if this incident wasn’t filmed? What if this became another story that stayed hush hush and never left the Baton Rouge rumor mill? I shudder to think, but most depressingly, I know that this won’t be the last time a black person’s death at the hands of the police will become a hashtag.
For a little more context about the situation and some food for thought regarding police brutality and racism, check out these 17 tweets. It’s time to wake up and acknowledge that racism is still a massive problem in America, and people are actually dying because of it.
1. We’re tired.
How many more times must this happen for us to matter? How many more must we lose?
BLACK. LIVES. MATTER. #AltonSterling
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) July 6, 2016
2. This statistic is absolutely staggering.
— one hundred emoji (@maharajaz) July 6, 2016
3. This short video delves into the way white and black Americans perceive racism in America very differently from each other.
— Fusion (@Fusion) July 6, 2016
4. People were sincerely more outraged by a zoo killing a gorilla than they are by a man getting killed by the police under suspicious circumstances.
Gorilla killed & those folks screamed "They didn't have to shoot him". Black man killed by cops & all they say is "Why was he resisting?"
— Angry Man (@AngryBlkManDC) July 6, 2016
5. Just a reminder that behind every person killed by the police, is a family that has to deal with the aftermath. Sterling’s teen son shouldn’t have to deal with this.
— CNN (@CNN) July 6, 2016
6. How are body cams coming off so easily? It’s 2016, we have the technology to prevent that from happening.
2 officers wearing body cams…*both* body cams fell off…
— Angry Black Hoe-Mo (@angryblackhoemo) July 6, 2016
"He had a gun!" So does the right to bear arms rhetoric that you all used last week only apply to white skin? #AltonSterling
— Black Girl Culture (@blxckgirlbeauty) July 6, 2016
8. BTW, girls/women are victims of police brutality, too. Look up Rekia Boyd.
Black women and girls are not invulnerable to police brutality. Stop spreading this false narrative. It's blatant erasure.
— thottimus prime (@delafro_) July 6, 2016
— deray mckesson (@deray) July 6, 2016
10. This is systematic racism in practice. Open your eyes, guys.
When Police Officers kill black men repeatedly and walk free, that's institutional racism. The institution protects them. #AltonSterling
— Dr Dipo Awojide (@OgbeniDipo) July 6, 2016
11. I’ve seen a disturbing number of people justify this shooting. It’s actually nauseating.
If you're trying to justify a cop shooting #AltonSterling point blank in the head like that, your humanity is in serious question. Just stop
— Dena Takruri (@Dena) July 6, 2016
12. Every. Time.
— linds in wonderland (@lindseysaidit) July 6, 2016
13. Sad but probably true.
It's gonna take a fucked up black cop killing a innocent white man on camera for people to realize this shit is wrong I guess
— Ty Dolla $ign (@tydollasign) July 6, 2016
14. Why aren’t more police officers calling out bad police practices?
— HOT 97 (@HOT97) July 6, 2016
15. On that note…
it’s way past time for us as a nation to hold perpetrators of racist violence accountable– ESPECIALLY if they’re hiding behind a badge.
— meredith graves (@gravesmeredith) July 6, 2016
16. Police brutality isn’t new, at all. Sometimes we even joke about it to ease the pain.
— Big Crutches (@CoryTownes) July 6, 2016
17. Hopefully, the Alton Sterling trial doesn’t have the same ending.
— ITSBIZKIT (@itsbizkit) July 6, 2016
What do you think should be done to prevent police brutality? Tell us in the comments!