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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/10/17

The Killing of Alton Sterling

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Message Thelma Mueller

My heart cries for a family who lost a loved one in yet another police shooting and to make matters worse, it was announced recently that the two officers involved in the shooting will not face charges because of insufficient evidence and the "beyond a reasonable doubt" clause. That was enough to set the officers free with no accountability for the death of another black male.

The killing of Alton Sterling took place on July 5, 2016. The two officers confronted him in front of Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, and what happened next was hard to watch. The video shows a black man being pinned down by two white officers with one officer kneeling on his chest and the other on his thigh. One of the officers had his gun drawn and was pointing it at the man on the ground. If Alton Sterling was struggling, it's only natural. Wouldn't you, if you had someone pressing down on your chest? The situation escalated when one of the officers was heard yelling, "He's got a gun in his pocket!" Three gunshots were heard and seconds later, three more. A life had been taken and Alton Sterling was dead with three shots to his chest and three to his back. A nation mourns again for a man they didn't know but they had seen this before. This seems to be the sorry state of affairs in America, the overuse of force by law enforcement where black men are concerned and the no accountability factor afterwards. It almost seems like law enforcement has some kind of immunity from being punished for the killings. President Obama once released a statement saying, "Americans should feel outraged at episodes of police brutality since they're rooted in long-simmering racial discord." Are the shootings racially motivated? You decide.

It is not just Americans who are outraged by the killings which seem to take place at regular intervals. The world has a front row seat because of social media and all it takes to get it out there is a click of a button and the injustice is played out on the screen for all to see. Some may say, "There is more to the video then what is shown." Perhaps, but what justification is there for shooting a man three times in his chest and then three times in his back while down on the ground and with no weapon in sight? His gun was not drawn, it was in his pocket according to numerous eye-witnesses. What if he had had a gun? In a country that sees carrying a gun as a 2nd Amendment right, why should this have caused any alarm? Alton Sterling wasn't pointing a gun at anyone when the officers arrived at the scene, it was tucked away in his pants pocket. So, what justification did the police have for the shooting? We will never know because this fatal shooting will go down as the others did. Protests on the streets in many different cities but to no avail, they can't change the outcome which seems to have already been decided even before the announcement yesterday. Police officers walk to a different drumbeat. They can't be prosecuted even if the evidence is staring you in the face.

So, it goes on and on. More killings will take place, more outrage on the streets, anger and rage simmering within but nothing changes. Let's wait for the next shooting which will happen soon enough and maybe just maybe there is accountability for the taking of a life.

The only thing that is "beyond a reasonable doubt," is the fact that Alton Sterling is dead. He is dead and gone. Nothing will bring him back. Did he get justice? What do you think?

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Thelma Mueller is a writer residing in Germany but has lived in Asia and America for many years. She writes for an international online magazine daily and has published short stories, a children's book and is currently working on a novel. Her (more...)

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