NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks today issued the following statement regarding the fatal shooting of 37-year old Alton Sterling after an encounter with police in Baton Rouge, LA:
“Yet again Americans are confronted with another fatal shooting of an African-American at the hands of the police. Behind the latest horrific video and hashtag is the humanity of a young black man slain on film whose name was Alton Sterling. The death of another African-American – captured in shocking detail on video - at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve the community is heartbreaking. Beyond heartbreaking, this latest tragedy calls for officials to break the inertia that may paralyze local and state authorities in insuring justice for the family, friends and community of Alton Sterling.
“Specifically and first, all state and municipal authorities should be directed by Governor Edwards to cooperate with and actively support the ongoing Justice Department investigation. Second, the cooperation with the the federal investigation should be monitored by state authorities, and if the facts bear out, pursue the filing of state charges. Third, based on the results of all state and federal investigations, if and as the facts warrant, the police involved in the shooting of Mr. Sterling should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Fourth, the Baton Rouge Police Department should undergo a thorough and comprehensive review to insure that its policing practices adhere to the Justice Department protocols and the Presidential Commission on 21st Century Policing.
“Sadly, the video of Alton Sterling’s death appears to be an ugly replay and remix of so many tragedies involving the police. In 2015, 27 people lost their lives at the hands of police in Louisiana, 14 of those were African-Americans. In the same year, 1000 people lost their lives in police custody across the United States. These tragedies, as well as our communities and country, demand wholesale reform.
“This is precisely why the NAACP is calling for the Protect with Respect Policing Reform Agenda. First, we are calling on states to pass comprehensive racial profiling laws. One racial profiling law, co-authored and passed with the support of the NAACP in Missouri enabled the Department of Justice to hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable through its “pattern and practice” investigation.
“Second, we demand full support of and passage of two crucial pieces of federal legislation. Last summer, the NAACP led a 1,002 mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington DC to demand members of Congress pass the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA) and the End Racial Profiling Act. LETIA addresses the issue of police accountability and trust between police departments and their communities. The legislation also provides incentives for police organizations to adopt standards to ensure that incidents of misconduct are reduced through management training and protocols. ERPA would create a federal prohibition on racial profiling, mandate data collection, provide funding for law enforcement retraining and withhold funding to law enforcement agencies that do not comply.
“Third, as the two presumptive presidential candidates criss-cross this country, we want them to clearly state their commitment to address criminal justice reform and the issues of racial profiling, use of excessive force, and stop and frisk abuses. As the two candidates lead rallies and fundraising events seeking our support and our vote, we must demand that they support legislation to reform our fractured criminal justice system and end the murder of black and brown men and women at the hands of police.
“Today, we mourn the tragic loss of the life of Alton Sterling and pray for his family and community. But we must also turn our anger and determination towards efforts to ensure there is a transparent and through investigation, demand our legislators and police officials support efforts to reform our criminal justice system at every level, and pass reasonable legislation that would end racial profiling.
“We applaud the efforts of the Baton Rouge NAACP, led by President Mike McClanahan, to support the community and lead the call for a thorough, independent investigation into the shooting death of Alton Sterling.”