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(51,863 posts)
Thu Apr 18, 2024, 01:38 PM Apr 18

Michael Harriot: The Supreme Court just ruled that rights don't really matter [View all]


Officially, no one killed Alton Sterling.

On July 5, 2016, Baton Rouge, La., police officer Blane Salamoni pumped six shots into the back and chest of 37-year-old Sterling as Officer Howie Lake II held him down. Because Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry concluded that the officers “acted as reasonable officers…and were justified in their use of force,” neither officer was found guilty of murder, manslaughter or excessive use of force against Sterling. The U.S. Department of Justice determined there was “insufficient evidence” to pursue charges. And, even though the local government eventually settled a wrongful death civil suit with Sterling’s family for $4.5 million, neither Salamoni, Lake, the Baton Rouge Police Department nor the city had to answer for their actions in a court of law. Technically, they just did some things that — through no fault of their own — resulted in a person being not alive. That’s how the law works for cops …

And white people.

If you’re Black, it’s a little different. For instance, when an unnamed police officer was injured during a July 9, 2016, protest against the police department that did not murder Sterling, everyone found someone to blame:

Black people.

Baton Rouge is a majority Black city, so it didn’t matter that the officer did not produce a shred of evidence proving that protest organizer DeRay Mckesson “colluded with the unknown assailant to attack Officer Doe, knew of the attack and ratified it, or agreed … that attacking the police was one of the goals of the demonstration.” Most of the protesters were Black, so it didn’t matter that investigators had no idea who threw the piece of concrete that caused a “loss of teeth, injury to jaw, [and] injury to brain and head” of the anonymous officer.” Like Sterling’s Black life, nothing mattered.

But Mckesson is also Black. So, in 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ruled that Mckesson could be held responsible for the officer’s injuries. In this unique case, it did not matter that Mckesson didn’t injure anyone. The U.S. Fifth Circuit of Appeals later affirmed the ruling, paving the way for a civil court jury to find Mckesson negligent for a crime he did not commit. And despite the judges concluding that Mckesson nor the march he organized had any connection to the Black Lives Matter organization, every news outlet has reported who was at fault for this single incident of reverse police brutality:

“Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.”


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