As you may know by now, a video began circulating yesterday that purportedly shows the shooting of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers. In the video, a man in a red shirt appears to be restrained on the ground. He is then shot.
This has sparked outrage similar to the resulting fury over the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland. Parallels between these cases will be drawn. Some will be dismissed. This one, in particular, though, should be noted: Two years ago, an officer in Baton Rouge named Michael Elsbury resigned after he sent the following string of texts and they went public:
I wish someone would pull a Ferguson on them and take them out. I hate looking at those African monkeys at work … I enjoy arresting those thugs with their saggy pants … They are nothing but a bunch of monkeys.
Earlier today, the president of the local NAACP chapter, Michael McClanahan, commented on the “culture” within the Baton Rouge Police Department. That reference makes sense, given that it has not yet been a full two years since an officer who spent 15 years in the department vocalized his desire to see a colleague “pull a Ferguson.” Ferguson, Missouri, is, of course, the city in which Brown was shot.
Whether or not the cop involved “[pulled] a Ferguson” depends on what you believe happened in Ferguson and what you believe happened in Baton Rouge. More details are obviously forthcoming, but it’s worth remembering that what happened in Ferguson is widely believed to have been the catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.
One way this differs from the death of Mike Brown at the hands of police is that Brown wasn’t the father of five and Sterling was.
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