Baton Rouge Police Attack on Protesters:
A Brutal, All-Out Assault

July 17, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |

The following Twitter video shows police attacking people protesting the police murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, July 10


Almost 200 people were arrested in Baton Rouge last week for protesting the brutal, unjust, illegitimate murder by cops of Alton Sterling. They have been charged with things like "resisting arrest" and "obstructing a passageway." In fact, their "crime" in the eyes of this system: standing up to demand justice for Alton Sterling, and an end to murder by police. Now it has come out that many of these people—in particular, many women—have been subjected to sadistic abuse and torture by the Baton Rouge police.

Alton Sterling Is Dead, His Killers Walk Free

Just after midnight on July 5, cops rolled up on Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man who struggled to make a living selling CDs outside the Triple S, a quick mart on the north side of town. Within moments they had shot and killed him. They let him bleed to death on the pavement. These two killer pigs have yet to be indicted or charged with anything, much less arrested.

A video a bystander took of the murder in the store's parking lot soon went viral. News—and images—of the police murder of Alton Sterling were all over the internet, and on the TV news. Determined protests erupted in Baton Rouge and helped spark protests against murder and brutality by police across the country. Authorities in Baton Rouge responded with vicious repression.

Police arrayed a massive, thoroughly militarized force to confront peaceful demonstrators exercising what are supposed to be their constitutional rights. One young man arrested on Saturday night, Javier Dunn, was standing on the side of the street, leaning against a car, when he was singled out for arrest by the cops.

He told reporters what happened next: "The police officers pushed me out of the crowd using their shields and threw me down to the ground. I was held by two officers on my back. One officer was stomping on my face and stomping my face into the pavement and another officer kneeling down to throw three punches to my face and to my eye, fracturing my orbital socket." The official report by the police who arrested Javier Dunn and charged him with a "felonious violation" said they did so "without incident."

Bob Avakian: Police murder... and the murderous logic of this system's election game.

July 10

On Sunday, July 10, hundreds of police assembled to attack youths on an esplanade and the sidewalk of a quiet residential neighborhood not far from Louisiana's Capitol.

Many, probably most, of the people righteously demanding justice for Alton Sterling that night were women. One woman described how she was "pulled into the street, and then arrested for being in the street." She said plastic cuffs were tightened so much she had no circulation in her hands. When she told this to the cops, they tightened them more, and told her it was "okay to have no circulation for up to six hours." She and 23 other women were put in a cell meant for eight. They were maced twice—for clapping when women were released. They were strip-searched by guards, and placed in freezing cold cells.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations have filed a suit against the Baton Rouge Police Department for an all-out assault on the constitutional rights of arrested protesters by using excessive force, physical and verbal abuse, and wrongful arrests to disperse protestors who were gathered peacefully to speak out against the police killing of Alton Sterling. July 10, 2016. Photo: AP

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations have filed a suit against the Baton Rouge Police Department for an "all-out assault on the constitutional rights" of arrested protesters by using "excessive force, physical and verbal abuse, and wrongful arrests to disperse protestors who were gathered peacefully to speak out against the police killing of Alton Sterling."

The suit describes how one woman saw “lines of police in riot gear, and other officers in green with what looked [to me] to be automatic assault rifles. Marcher Colleen Harrigan recalls that 'there were so many police I could see them all the way to the horizon.'" The report describes how police continued to swarm, beat, and arrest people as they "proceeded down France Street towards East Boulevard in line formation across the road, with the armored vehicle, assault rifles, rubber bullet guns, gas masks, shields up, and what appeared to be a 'long range acoustic device ("LRAD"), which creates a painfully loud transmission.”

Deep Tensions

On Friday, July 15, Hillar Moore, the district attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish, announced that charges were being dropped against about 100 of the almost 200 people arrested last week. He didn't say a word about arresting people illegally in the first place. He didn't denounce the police torturing the arrested youths.

First of all—it is utterly outrageous and unacceptable that anyone is charged for protesting the murder of Alton Sterling. Charges must be dropped against all those arrested! But this move by the D.A. is intended to carry out further, even more vicious repression, and to threaten further protests. A spokesman for the BRPD said that future protesters would be committing a felony if they "block an interstate." In Louisiana, the charge of "aggravated obstruction of a highway" can lead to up to 15 years in prison, "with or without hard labor."

The authorities are lashing out in other ways, too. Chris LeDay, the Black man who released the video that shows the cops murdering Alton Sterling, was arrested when he returned from his hometown to his current residence in Georgia. He was arrested by military police, told that he "fit the description" of someone who supposedly was wanted for assault, put in shackles, and taken to jail. Then he was charged with not paying an old traffic ticket.

People throughout Baton Rouge remain angry at the murder of Alton Sterling. Gatherings continue every night outside the Triple S. The authorities have unleashed ferocious repression, and are preparing more.


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