Within the last 48 hours, two separate videos have been circulating on the internet showing two men, both African American, being shot in encounters with police officers (Video 1 – Video 2). These videos graphically displayed the shootings of Alton Sterling, a Baton Rouge resident who was killed in a violent confrontation after selling DVDs outside of a store, and of Philando Castile, from Minnesota, who was shot four times in front of his girlfriend and her child while sitting at a stoplight. The latter was displayed across the internet in a horrifying livestream, narrated by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds.
While these deaths occurred, respectively, in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, the shock waves have reverberated across the country. Outrage was sparked in New York City, with activists from all boroughs making their voices heard, through social media and vigils. The repercussions even reached as far as the United Nations, with Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary General, stating that “For anybody who’s seen the videos, they are extremely disturbing to say the least, and we would hope that each of these cases are investigated thoroughly, in order to find out what happened, and also to establish if there is any pattern.” (Full statement at minute 28:11.) The fact that the issue, which is domestic in nature, has made it’s way to the newsroom of the United Nations is unsurprising, as the global community has taken notice of America’s issue with police brutally and indiscriminately targeting the African American and Latino communities in the past.
Now more than ever, with the prevalent importance of social media mounting greater each day, it is the country’s youth who have decided that the time to sit passively is over. Throughout schools and universities, student leaders and activists are taking matters into their own hands, creating vigils, protests, and organizations to counteract the violence which continues to be inflicted on unarmed members of the African American community at the hands of police officers across the country. One such vigil is scheduled in Manhattan tonight, Thursday, July 7th, from 5pm-7pm in Union Square Park, NYC. The event was organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and is expected to be attended by over two thousand people, all protesting the lack of legislative reform and the social atmosphere which has brought about little change since similar events last fall, then protesting the almost identical scenarios which resulted in the deaths of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, and Missouri citizen Michael Brown–among others. This event will be attended by La Voce reporters, who will continue to follow and report on the movement.