One Year After the Police Murder of Alton Sterling:
Defying Pig Threats, Demanding Justice in Baton Rouge

July 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader who went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

One year after the police murder of Alton Sterling, and no pig has been charged, Alton’s family called for people to come to Baton Rouge for five days to “Commemorate Alton Sterling, Protest His Murder!” A team of Revolution distributors went to join them in Baton Rouge.

The crowds were much smaller this year. Veda, one of Alton’s aunts, said that people in the neighborhood are scared to come out, but she is not going to stop calling them to come out, because Alton still deserves justice. One woman from the community said that the police came to her house and warned her, “Don’t go to North Foster” (where the Triple S store, where Alton was murdered, is), but she came anyway.

Veda brought up how even more now, since Trump is the president, the police act like they can do whatever they want. Several people spoke to this. A longtime community activist said that Trump and his racist cronies are opening the door for more police killing Black people and getting away with it—look at how many cops got off just this month—and the only way out is for people to fight, for all people coming together to fight.

A couple of people brought up how the way they see it, Trump and the white supremacists are trying to start a civil war between whites and Blacks. One young woman added, “When Trump talks about make America great again, he’s just saying make America white again, and we need to come together to fight this.” One young woman, who was out there all day with her two little kids, responded to police brutality in the context of the fascist program, and said that she hates how Muslims are being treated right now and all the injustices people are enduring everywhere.

People were very happy to see Revolution newspaper, and several people said that they remember the Stolen Lives banner (showing the faces of dozens of victims of murder by police) that was a prominent part of the scene outside Triple S a year ago amid the protests after Alton’s murder. A couple of people said that they are glad that Revolution came back, because a lot of times, people just come and go, try to make a name for themselves, but they can tell that the revolution is serious about this and really care about the people.

One man came up and said that he doesn’t care if he lives or dies. That he had just spend 22 years of his life in prison, and is on parole for 40 more years. He said, show me what I can live for—and he got a copy of Revolution. The next morning we ran into him at Triple S again, and he said that he had started reading some of the articles, and that it was real deep, and something he wants to find out more about. But he asked how can he get involved, the system has him trapped.

There was a lot of debate over why more people hadn’t been coming out to protest. One guy agitated about Black-on-Black crime. Another guy started saying that there is Black-on-Black crime, white-on-white crime, there is crime no matter what race you are, so that’s not why people are being killed by the police. We had gotten out a lot of the Chicago Revolution Club communiqué, and several people said, Wow, they’re doing that? And one guy said he wanted a stack of them to give out in the community.


On Wednesday evening, there was an impromptu rally, and several people came up to speak and these were some common themes:

One young man said, “You gotta be willing to sacrifice some of yourself for this movement if you want to keep going, the reason more people aren’t out here is because they don’t see people committed to transforming the situation—and you want that to happen, you got to change your lifestyle—be like Veda.”

An 18-year-old woman said: “Why aren’t we doing more? Asking for more? There should not have been a man laying on this sidewalk with his blood splattered here!... Why are Black people just asking for peace? [Mocking the authorities] ‘We want you to be civil’—Civil?!—Civil?! We want you to treat us like humans!… Don’t tell me that at 18—and I have my whole life ahead of me—that this is what I have to settle for—Why?”

A man who distributed posters he made honoring Alton Sterling talked about the afternoon protest. Why go to the police station and subject yourself to that? “Standing up for yourself should never be condemned. We got condemned for standing up for ourselves, we got prosecuted for standing up for ourselves, we got beat and abused because we stood up for ourselves. And at the end of the day until we stand up for ourselves everything don’t matter what you do on a daily basis. Facebook don’t matter, Instagram don’t matter, Snapchat don’t matter. When you realize that this is the most important thing in your life—right now—that’s when you’ll come to terms with what’s going on right now.” He called on people to continue resisting and set an example for the youth.

Another man decried the fact that people’s tax money is going into the pockets of these murderers—who get paid time off for killing. He said, “I’m tired of saying ‘no justice no peace’—we want justice NOW.” And led the crowd in chanting that.

Veda said, “It’s about you, Black people! I love you all, love you enough to come out and protest this thing. We gonna be out here tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Come out here because I know you got children. I’m out here for mine.”

A woman who was listening said, with tears in her eyes, that she feels so bad for the families. She said that she had only daughters but now has six grandsons and she worries about them all the time—that if you’re born Black you’re in danger. She said how she was married for “way too long” to a police officer. When Alton Sterling was murdered she felt compelled to go down to the store, to be with people, to take a stand. When her husband asked her why she wanted to go mess around with all those “hoodlums,” she said, OK that’s it, and left him for good. She described how this Black man had become such a hater of his own people—calling them things like “roaches.” She had encountered the Revolution Club there last year and was excited to hear about what they are doing in Chicago and took extra papers and flyers to get out to people she knows.


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