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All Revved Up: Alton Sterling's Death Represents A Cultural Problem

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Alton Sterling
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On Tuesday in Baton Rouge, A familiar scenario played out, revealed in chilling cellphone footage that shook the nation and sparked protests in Louisiana and beyond. In a 48-second video, two police officers are seen throwing Alton Sterling, a 37 year-old black man, to the ground. As both officers knelt over Sterling, one officer yells, "He's got a gun! Gun!" while the other officer draws a weapon from his holster and aims it at Sterling. The camera turns away as shots are heard, five shots, two of which struck Sterling in the chest and back.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Baton Rouge NAACP Executive Director Michael McClanahan called for a full investigation into the incident, a total upheaval of the police department, and the resignation of the Chief of Police. “Everything that starts today is not going to stop today, I promise you,” he said. “We will continue to act until we get the one percent [of bad police officers] gone, the mayor gone, and this chief law enforcement officer gone, period.”

The U.S. Justice Department has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the case, and the two officers have been placed on administrative leave. But after a long string of similar incidents, is this enough? “I disagree with the NAACP leader—I don’t want another investigation,” Reverend Emmett G. Price III said on Boston Public Radio Wednesday. “Investigations show nothing. They’re going to find these cops innocent, or whatever… that doesn’t do anything.”

Price joined Reverend Irene Monroe on Boston Public Radio for their weekly segment, All Revved Up. “The country is pulling further and further apart,” Price said. “There are so many people who have been really ripped to the core in these situations…. there are populations of people who still think that he had it coming to him. They still think that because he broke the law, because of this, there’s some kind of justice there, and there absolutely is no justice.”

“For some reason, white cops are able to disarm and de-escalate a situation without killing white Americans,” Monroe said. “You begin to see this implicit bias when it comes to black young men.”

Emmett G. Price III is a Professor and the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Huffington Post and Bay Windows. To hear their full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.

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