Protests in major US cities slam police killing of two black men
Protesters have gathered across the United States to express outrage after police shot and killed two African American men only two days apart.
Philando Castile, 32, was killed during a traffic stop Wednesday night in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was shot inside his car as he was reportedly trying to reach for his driver’s license. His girlfriend posted live a video of the bloody scene minutes after he was shot.
Castile’s death happened within a day of another fatal shooting by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Alton Sterling, 37, was pinned to the ground and shot in the chest outside a convenience store on Tuesday, following an altercation with police. A graphic video of the shooting recorded by a bystander shows an officer shooting Sterling five times at close range.
On Thursday, protesters in Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, St. Paul and other cities took to the streets to slam the killings.
A crowd gathered in front of the Minnesota governor’s residence in the afternoon, chanting, “The change starts with me.” A protester was wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with “Stop Killing Us” written in red on the back.
Governor Mark Dayton ventured out briefly to quell the angry crowd. Earlier in the day, he said a state investigation had been launched.
“Would this have happened if the driver and the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have,” Dayton told reporters. “So I’m forced to confront that this kind of racism exists, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to vow and ensure that it doesn’t happen and doesn’t continue to happen.”
The governor called on the Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into Castile’s death. The department, however, said it would help with the state probe.
In Chicago, Illinois, protesters shut down one of the city’s major expressways for about 10 minutes on Thursday.
In New York, hundreds of protesters blocked traffic in Times Square, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Police intervened to disperse the crowd at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street. Dozens of individuals were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.
Protesters ventured into the rain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also blocking traffic on several highways. They shouted slogans like, “No justice, no peace.”
In Atlanta, Georgia, people took to the streets to denounce the killings of Castile and Sterling.
Multiple officers killed in Dallas
Protests in Dallas, Texas, turned violent Thursday night. The city plunged into chaos as at least two snipers targeted law enforcement officers from elevated positions. At least eleven officers were shot, four of them fatally.
Several people were taken into custody.
The use of unnecessary force by police against African Americans in cities from Ferguson to Baltimore and New York has sparked nationwide protests in the past two years and has given birth to a movement called Black Lives Matter.
Police in the US killed over 1,150 people in 2015, with the largest police departments disproportionately killing at least 321 African Americans, according to data compiled by an activist group that runs the Mapping Police Violence project.