U.S. Department of IN-Justice Rules That Police Murder of Alton Sterling Was "Reasonable"

May 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On July 5 last year, cops in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pulled up on Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, in a parking lot. Within minutes, the cops tackled Sterling to the ground, tased him, fired six bullets into him at point-blank range—three in the back—and killed him. His supposed “crime”? Selling DVDs outside a store. The whole world saw the video of the horrendous murder by pigs in blue. And the whole world saw people rise up in days of powerful protests in Baton Rouge, in the face of repression by heavily armed riot police.

Now, 10 months later, the howling injustice of the killing of Alton Sterling has received a stamp of approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which announced on May 3 that no federal charges will be brought against the two cops involved. The Baton Rouge police had put those two cops on “paid administrative leave” after they killed Sterling, and so far, they have not faced any local or state charges for their wanton crime.

The DOJ’s justification for their outrageous decision was that the “law requires that the reasonableness of an officer’s use of force on an arrestee be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with added perspective of hindsight.” In their eyes, what those Baton Rouge cops did to Alton Sterling met the standard of legal action by police—any “reasonable officer” would have acted in the same way, they say.

“Reasonable”?!? “Legal”?!? The DOJ rationalization for the police murder of Alton Sterling speaks volumes about the laws and the role of cops under this system. The whole way that the laws are set up and used essentially puts a stamp of approval on police murder. This points very directly to the fact that the brutality, terror, and even murder—especially against Black, Latino and other oppressed people and those on the bottom of society generally—are considered normal and legal day-to-day operations of the police, as armed enforcers for a system of exploitation and oppression.

Only two days after Alton Sterling’s life was cut down in Baton Rouge, police in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, shot and murdered another Black man, Philando Castile, as he sat in a car with his fiancée and her four-year-old daughter. These murders—and many others just that summer, and many, many more year after year—are part of the constant terror carried out by the police against Black, Brown, and other oppressed people. And in case after case, the murdering pigs are let off free to roam the streets, their crimes declared by the system’s courts and institutions as “legitimate” and “reasonable” actions of a force “doing their job.”

A system that does this over and over again is criminal, immoral and illegitimate. We need an actual revolution to overthrow this system of capitalism-imperialism and bring into being a radically different society.

And now at the top of this system is the Trump/Pence regime, intent on further unleashing law enforcement forces around the country as part of the fascist “making America great again” agenda—with a DOJ headed up by Attorney General Sessions, who is moving quickly on his pledge to squash any criticism of and restrictions on police. The fight for justice for Alton Sterling and all the other victims of the killer police is part of the urgent struggle to stop the fascist regime and drive it out of power as soon as possible.



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