Protests continue throughout the nation over the deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, the latest black men killed at the hands of police officers. In New York City, police commissioner William Bratton is asking the public to remain calm so a peaceful and meaningful discussion can be held on the issues affecting the community.
There have been hundreds of arrested in Black Lives Matter marches and protests across the country. New York, Atlanta, Miami, Memphis, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C. are just some of the cities where people have taken to the streets in support of the protesters in Minnesota and Louisiana. Those who were arrested were mainly charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway.
On July 5, Alton Sterling was selling CDs and DVDs outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as he had done on multiple occasions. Reports say a homeless man approached him repeatedly asking for money, and then called 911 when Sterling took out his gun. A federal investigation continues into what happened between the 37-year-old man and police, but cell phone video footage shows the officers on top of Sterling when the fatal shots were fired. The police involved were equipped with body cameras, which they claim became dislodged in the encounter. Witnesses say Sterling’s gun was pulled out of his pocket by police after the shooting.
The following night, Philando Castile was pulled over by police on a highway outside of Minneapolis for a broken taillight. As he reached for his wallet, the father and school nutrition services supervisor informed the officer there was a firearm in the car, and that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He was shot by the officer four times, and the events that followed were played out on a live-stream video being recorded by Castile’s fiancé Diamond Reynolds and sent across the internet. Castile died as Reynolds and their 4-year-old-daughter sat in the car with him, just a week and half before his 33rd birthday.
Tensions have continued to escalate between protesters and police, especially after the horrific fatal shooting of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas. Police in riot gear used smoke bombs as they clashed with more than 200 people in St. Paul, Minnesota, who began to throw objects at cops when they were instructed to stop blocking the highway. In Baton Rouge, protesters were also met with police in riot gear as they marched towards the city’s police headquarters.
Government and law enforcement officials, as well as community leaders, are calling for a stop to the violence from everyone involved. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah made a powerful statement regarding the need to take sides on this issue. According to the host, “with police shootings…if you’re pro-Black Lives Matter, you’re assumed to be anti-police, and if you’re pro-police, then you surely hate black people. When in reality, you can be pro-cop and pro-black, which is what we should all be.”
While the country tries to work through this latest conflict, there is more and more scrutiny on the way the public is treated by police officers. If you have been a victim of police brutality or racial profiling, you need an attorney who understands how navigate the complexities of a civil rights case. Please contact the skilled and experienced lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C., to stand up for you and your family in a court of law.