“March for Our Lives” showed us there exists a certain unity among parts of the country around the issue of gun control. However, the unity is overdue as Americans, particularly poor African-Americans, have been demanding gun control for decades as it pertains to police brutality.
Two years ago Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police officers. Now, family, friends and people around the country have revisited the horrific moment as the Baton Rouge Police Department has released the body camera footagefrom the 2016 incident which resulted in the shooting of Alton Sterling. Additionally, the Lousiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry decided the officers would not be charged with state-level crimes.
Additionally, police officers shot Stephon Clark, 22, eight times on March 13 because they assumed his cell phone was a gun. Six of those shots were fired into his back while he was standing in his grandmother’s backyard.
While the persistent work of conservative media and the monopolization President Donald Trump may have derailed the message of the Black Lives Matter movement, the police and the states that decide not to press charges against overly aggressive officers remain morally dishonest.
The narrative is still the same now as it was two years ago. In 2018 alone 277 people have been shot and killed by police. To ignore that this is still an ongoing issue is simply willful ignorance. But above all, it is a reminder of how much more work is left to be done.
In the wake of Stephon Clark’s death and the release of the never-before-seen video that documented Alton Sterling’s last moments, it is paramount that young people remain united while also channeling that energy into all areas of gun reform.
Black survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have already expressed feeling underrepresented as reported by CNN. Their feeling of underrepresentation comes as the kids that have received national platforms for their voices have been a narrow slice of their student body. The kids who were invited to CNN’s townhall, placed on the cover of Time magazine and have become the face of “March For Our Lives” have been mostly Caucasian-American students.
Requesting representation is not to discredit the tragic experience or the work of the students but rather to ask that people see the same humanity in Alton Sterling and Stephon Clark that they saw in the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Even if both men may not have been leading perfect lives, their lives should not be worth less than others and that should not disqualify them from the compassion of their fellow Americans.
Some of the biggest changes in American history came when people united around a single issue. Intersectionality or activism around issues across different identities is important now more than ever. The most important thing that can happen right now is congregation among people across ethnic and socioeconomic lines.
As the country navigates the growing movements around gun reform, it is important that police brutality is not forgotten about in that movement.
– Jaden Edison is an electronic media freshman
– Carrington Tatum is an electronic media sophomore