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Protests Erupt in Louisiana After Police Kill Alton Sterling

  • More than a hundred people gathered outside the store where Alton Sterling shot.

    More than a hundred people gathered outside the store where Alton Sterling shot. | Photo: Twitter / @BrynStole

Published 6 July 2016

Sterling, who was just selling music outside of a convenience store, is the 114th Black man killed by police in the U.S. in 2016.

After Louisiana police killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man from Baton Rouge, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest Tuesday night, The Advocate reported.

The crowd began to gather around 4:30 p.m. outside Triple S Food Mart, the convenience store where Sterling was shot several times in the chest and back by police as he sold CDs and DVDs outside the shop.

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The crowd soon grew to over 200 people and included Black community leaders and politicians.

Cellphone video footage was also filmed by a bystander, and was circulated at the protest, further inciting outrage about the incident.

In the video, Sterling is seen being tased and then tackled to the ground before being pinned on his back by officers. An officer then fires at Sterling’s torso before the camera moves away. More shots can be heard on audio.

“We’ve seen a video that’s disturbing, and gruesome,” Mike McClanahan, Baton Rouge president of the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), who was among the protesters for much of the evening, told the Advocate. “We know that justice must be served.”

Many at the protest personally knew Sterling from the neighborhood as an easy-going guy who spent long hours selling CDs in front of the shop in order to make ends meet.

The Rev. Eugene Collins told the Advocate he knew Sterling, and that he was a fixture of the neighborhood. "You see that video, you don't have to be an expert in policing or very educated to know that was wrong," he said. "From the way the video looked, these people should be angry."

The large crowd chanted “Black lives matter” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.” By 10 p.m. Tuesday evening, they blocked traffic with their vehicles.

The owner of the convenience store, Abdullah Muflahi, passed out soda and water bottles to protesters, who continued their impassioned rallying well past midnight.

Muflahi was one of the principal witnesses of the incident.

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“He was screaming, ‘What did I do,’ ‘What's going on,” Muflahi told the New York Daily News.

Police confiscated his store’s surveillance footage that Muflahi said would have captured every second of Sterling’s death outside his store.

“I think they really handled it the wrong way,” Muflahi pressed.

As police brutality and systemic racism continue to claim the lives of Black people in the U.S., Sterling is the 114th Black man killed by police officers in 2016.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department announced they will begin a civil rights investigation into the incident, where they will look into whether excessive force was used by the cops. Agency spokesman David Jacobs said that the FBI’s New Orleans Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will also be participating in the investigation.

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