~~July 7, 2016~~
THE FIRST OF TWO
Alton Sterling Killed by Baton Rouge Police
I haven’t been able to blog today.
As I said before, I have no words.
I can’t forget two Negro men who were killed in the light of day, with witnesses around, with the police cameras and civilian cell phones.
Social media is exploding with information about these events which occurred back to back in different cities.
The perfect words.
They are not mine.
I need to share.
LAB Pro Lib
Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was standing in the parking lot selling CDs as he had for years when two white cops arrived on Tuesday night, July 6.
By Wednesday morning he was dead and protesters were in the city’s streets.
Calls erupted from Congress and the NAACP for an independent investigation into the shooting, which the Justice Department announced within hours.
By Ricardo Neftali Arroyo
I watched the Alton Sterling execution video.
I wish I hadn’t.
Not because I didn’t want to bear witness. The way Emmett Till’s mother wanted an open casket, “so all the world can see what they did to my boy.”
I’ve borne witness before.
I saw the final moments of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, Samuel DuBoise, and so many others. I’ve felt my heart break as Black men, women and children are gunned down for existing.
Not because it was triggering.
Police brutality is always triggering.
Triggering in that I too have seen the other end of a police officers gun, I too have felt the violation of being searched, of “fitting the description“, of being well aware that your body, at that moment is not your own, that even in the heat of my greatest discomfort my well being depended on having that officer feel as comfortable as I could.
Comfortable in my violation. Comfortable in my pain. Comfortable with my existence. All while knowing that even though I must give as many reasons for my continued existence as possible.This officer wouldn’t need to provide any to be my executioner. I am not alone in having that experience. That experience, like police brutality, is not isolated. Not even in the direct example of my life.
Not because I was already sick and tired thousands of deaths ago.
As a public defender in our criminal injustice system sick and tired is a state of existence. When on the best of days I can achieve a result for a person that resembles justice. But far more often I am simply fighting, as hard as I can, against the worst of several unjust outcomes so that I can minimize the level of injustice they must endure.
You learn, as a person of color in America, at a very early age, how to push on through the weariness of injustice.
I wish I hadn’t seen that video because I have grown uncomfortable with the fetishization of black death and more importantly of its desensitization. Of those who do not lift a finger in the interest of racial justice. Or against police brutality. But are content to gawk at the trauma and injustice without engaging in the struggle against it. Those that only contribute by bearing witness.
I am uncomfortable with those who have grown comfortable with the idea that we must present our dead in order to be believed. In order for there to be action. How many more must we lay before you in order for you to do more than passively engage? If not us then who? If not now then when?
I’ll leave you with this.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time; but if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
#IWishIHadnt #LABProLib #RicardoNeftaliArroyo #AltonSterling #AltonSterlingKilled #BatonRougePolice #StopShootingUs #StateSanctionedViolence #BlackBodies #Oppression #HeavyHeart #Love #BlacknessAndBrownness #BlackLivesMatter #PowerfulStatement #OccupyDemocrats
#WeAllAreOne #ItIsWhatItIs #DrRex #HortyRex #hrexach
We ALL are ONE!!