Every year I joke to others that in my neighborhood, it’s hard to tell the difference between fireworks and gunshots. Sure I’m joking but at the same time there is pure truth in my statement. My neighborhood has been home to shoot outs, cops visiting on a nighty basis and as of July 5th at 12:35 A.M., people dying from police shootings.
I unfortunately didn’t hear about this horrible situation until later the next day while I was at work. My co-worker had the video up on her phone from Facebook and as I watched the footage, my chest constricted and my eyes began to water. I didn’t know what to feel. I have seen and heard stories like this all over the news from different parts of the country but it changes things when it’s directly in your backyard. This shooting occurred not even 10 minutes from my home. It is terrifying to know that I was just in that area just hours before it all occurred.
As I write this, there are tears falling from my eyes after watching Sterling’s wife give a news conference over the death of her husband. What hurt the most was watching Sterling’s 15-year old son grieve openly over the loss of his father. I am in so much pain for this family. I saw a lot of comments saying “He shouldn’t have been out there”, “He had a gun” and “He was resisting arrest”. I can’t say anything about those things. I wasn’t out there. I wasn’t there. I do not have the facts. What we do have is a video showing two cops shoot a man six times in the chest while he was pinned to the ground. Why must they shoot to kill? Was it necessary to do that? Did that not seem excessive? Regardless of race, does a person in that position just stop being a human being to them to where they have to be gunned down like animals?
My sadness is turning into anger because I am tired. I am sick and tired of turning on the news and seeing horrific images and heartbreaking videos of yet another life lost or ruined in this country. I get sick every time a picture of someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, wife or husband is shown on my television screen. I can never escape the pain because of social media, news apps and random updates. It’s like a constant reminder that I should never forget. It reminds me that I have never felt 100% safe at any time in my life. I hate that I actually have to watch myself and do the exactly the right thing. I actually fear getting pulled over or randomly stopped. My heart speeds up whenever I see a cop car. This should not be something I feel from those who keep me safe. I don’t blame them all as a good portion of my family and extended family is in the force but I do not respect the ones who abuse the power they have. It’s sickening that they have the power to do so much good yet they choose to misuse and abuse it.
In the aftermath of this hellish event, I just want my city to do the right thing. Say what you have to say. Make your voices heard. Don’t bottle up your pain. Stand together as one and show unity. Don’t let Alton Sterling’s name be just another memory. Help his family get through this by being proactive and get them the justice they deserve.
May God be with them and my entire city. We will get through this and persevere.