Have you had occasion in your life to sob uncontrollably? Do you remember the raw grief and the sense of being lost, the free fall of despair? Were you 15 years old and facing TV cameras as Cameron Sterling was in Baton Rouge? His father Alton was shot multiple times point blank while already restrained. It is too awful for words; yet the heartbreaking video of Cameron’s grief may be the only way to touch the humanity of some people. 61 years ago, Emmett Till’s mother was faced with the awful decision of whether to have a closed casket or to open it and allow photographers to capture the horror. “I want them to see what they did to my son,” she said. It is natural to want to grieve in private. Once again, a family reeling from the devastation of brutal injustice has found the courage to allow the cameras in. We are too good at distancing; we need to be confronted by the barbarity done in our name. But oh, for a child to have to bear that burden. I hope Cameron at least gets some sense of the countless strangers who longed to hold him as he shook. But he wants his father back, and we cannot give that to him. We must do more than cry in sympathy. We must make this stop.
Below, the horrific video of this point-blank killing of Alton Sterling while he was restrained. All cops are not monsters. But we have a terrible and recurring problem, and a big part of it is a refusal by people all along the chain of justice, including juries, to hold racist, murderous officers accountable. We have got to find a way to change this. But at least we can make some noise. Joan E. Biren writes: “Let the BATON ROUGE PD (@BRPD) know what you think. I did.”
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Note: After he was shot, Sterling was mortally wounded but not dead. He died subsequently.