A KILLING IN BATON ROUGE!
There is a perception around the country that high profile
shootings are considered the norm in Louisiana. Nine police officers were
killed in the line of duty last year, more than in any other state in the
nation. New Orleans regularly heads the list of the highest murder rate in the
Now, my hometown of Baton Rouge
is headlined in news coverage across the world as two white local police officers
were involved in the shooting of an African-American man selling CDs outside a
There were numerous witnesses and several videos that are
all over the Internet.
The videos show a
struggle, a police officer hollering “He’s got a gun,” and then multiple shots
The 37-year-old male named
Alton Sterling was dead at the scene.
Sterling was no role model in the community.
As the Baton Rouge Advocate reported,
“Sterling’s life was punctuated by a rash of jail terms
stretching back to 1996, including an encounter with police similar to the one
that ended in his death.”
He was a
registered sex offender and had served jail time for possession and
distribution of drugs and illegally possessing a gun.
He had lots of problems.
But should he have been killed while resisting arrest?
The FBI is now involved and all this is to be
sorted out in the weeks to come.
city is on edge and the Governor, the Mayor and a host of city and community leaders
are calling for calm in the wake of the rioting that took place in Ferguson,
New York and Baltimore.
I was a guest on a statewide radio program this week and a
caller asked what she should tell her kids if they are confronted by a police
officer. I answered that I have counseled my family members to do everything
possible to defuse the situation.
or your child is unjustly accused or mishandled, there will be a later time to
air one’s grievances.
But not in the
heat of a confrontation.
A local African-American state representative strongly
disagreed with me, saying that black citizens have been told for years to just
go long, patronize police officers, and don’t rock the boat. His exact words
were: ‘It’s always on the victim, the victim should have done this, the victim
should have done that.
We always make
the victim the perpetrator, and we’re not going to stand for it this time.”
Maybe the victim is not the perpetrator and perhaps the
police are being overbearing and too demanding. So you have to make a choice.
Confront, argue and oppose the orders of the police, or try to calmly defuse
the situation even if you feel you are in the right.
Alton Sterling chose confrontation, and now
he is dead.
When I was serving as Secretary of State back in the 1980s,
I was driving home late one night through St. Landry Parish, when a local
police officer pulled me over for speeding.
He ordered me out of the car, and to get down on my knees with my hands
in front of me.
He proceeded to search
my state car without any justification while I lay prone on the gravel for some
I was livid, and was on the
verge of telling him off.
But a cooler
view prevailed and I just kept quiet.
When he finished his search, he began to realize his overreaction and
His boss called the next day
to express his regret and assure me that his officers needed more common sense
I’m not suggesting that a citizen who feels aggrieved should
not protest what they feel is abuse and overreaction by police officers.
I certainly would.
File a complaint, get a lawyer, start a
petition, organize a protest, call on the ACLU, call the mayor and the chief of
But in the heat of a confrontation, especially at night, use
some common sense and consider the consequences.
You can raise a ruckus by clashing with the
Or you can live to fight for
your rights on another day.
Alton Sterling was in the right, he won’t be around for another day.
Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout
the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns
and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s
nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am
Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.