Tag: Civil Rights protests

It’s Something: U.S. Department of Justice Launches Investigation into Alton Sterling Shooting

Police shooting victim Alton Sterling (photo via nydailynews.com)
Police shooting victim Alton Sterling (photo via nydailynews.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

By now, most have heard about the latest in the incredibly disturbing string of homicides of black citizens at the hands of local police.  Alton Sterling was shot and killed after two police officers approached him on Tuesday evening for selling CDs near a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

According to CNN, the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, announced that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will investigate the shooting.  Edwards added that the Middle District of Louisiana’s U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI will also assist in the investigation.

Officers say they arrived at the scene when an anonymous 911 caller reported a man threatening him with a gun. A struggle ensued between Sterling and the two officers. Sterling was pinned down, then shot multiple times in the head and chest, eventually succumbing to his injuries.

The encounter was caught on camera and went viral yesterday evening, sparking protests and national media attention.  After observing video of the encounter, Edwards said he had “very serious concerns.”

“The video is disturbing to say the least,” he added.

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden said he is also committed to working with federal investigators.

At a morning press conference, Sterling’s family tearfully condemned the actions of the BRPD officers involved in the shooting, asking for justice while visually broken and dismayed.

You can find more information on this story here.

Judge in South Carolina Throws Out Sit-In Convictions for “Friendship Nine”

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A judge in Rock Hill, S.C., vacated the convictions of nine black men who were arrested in 1961 for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter. (Photo by Megan Gielow for The New York Times)

Rock Hill, South Carolina (CNN) A South Carolina judge on Wednesday threw out the convictions of the Friendship Nine, who were jailed in 1961 after a sit-in protest in Rock Hill, South Carolina, during the civil rights movement.

“Today is a victory in race relations in America,” said Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said in a news conference following the ruling. “It is a new day.”

The prosecutor who pushed for this momentous day, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett of Rock Hill, cited King’s father when explaining to CNN on Tuesday why he was motivated to take up the cause of the Friendship Nine: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

The proceedings began at the Rock Hill Law Center with Municipal Judge Jane Pittman Modla reading from the original court record for each of the men. She asked each of the seven men in attendance — one has since died, while another had transportation issues — to stand as their names were called.

“Offense: trespassing. Disposition: guilty. Sentence: $100 or 30 days. Condition: sent to the chain gang,” she said for each of them, reading from the 1961 docket.

Retired state Supreme Court Justice Ernest Finney, who was the men’s defense attorney in 1961, entered the motion to have the sentences tossed out. The 83-year-old required help standing and propped himself on the table in front of him as he spoke.

“May it please the court, today I’m honored and proud to move this honorable court to vacate the conviction of my clients. These courageous and determined South Carolinians have shown by their conduct and their faith that the relief that they seek should be granted. I move for the convictions entered in 1961 to be vacated.”

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