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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people                              
Vol. 80/No. 27      July 25, 2016



Available Online
(lead article)

Join fight against cop brutality and killings!

Nationwide protests say ‘prosecute the cops’

Militant/Seth Galinsky
New York march July 7. Protests have taken place across the country to protest police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Protests have taken place coast to coast since cops killed Alton Sterling here July 5 and Philando Castile the next day in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. “Hands up, don’t shoot,” has once again become a rallying cry as protesters take to the streets.

“The police have to be accountable for what they do, they’ve been doing this for years,” maintenance worker Angelo Robinson, 53, said July 8 outside the Triple S convenience store. Daily and nightly protests in front of a memorial at the store were taking place when Militant worker correspondents arrived here three days after Sterling, 37, was killed in front of Triple S. Drivers of passing cars honk their horns protesting the killing and supporting the fight to indict the cops.

Sterling, who was Black, was selling CDs outside the store as he had done for some three years when cops Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, who are Caucasian, approached, reportedly responding to a 911 call. They wrestled him to the ground and shot him point blank. The cops claim he had a gun, but no weapon is seen in the videos.

The owner of the Triple S store, Abdullah Muflahi, 28, who is originally from Yemen, recorded the whole incident. After the killing, Muflahi was placed in a hot cop car for four hours because he was told he was a witness. “I didn’t tell them about the video,” he told the Militant. He later released the video to the media and federal investigators. “They should be arresting the cops,” he said, adding that they often come into the store to harass customers.

“I wanted to stand for Alton,” Muflahi told the July 8 Baton Rouge Advocate. “We just need to stick together — no matter what race we are, no matter where we are from.” The paper reported that Sandra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, told Muflahi that she wanted him to speak at the funeral.

Soon after Alton Sterling died, the police and media began a slander campaign, reporting that he had a 46-page-long rap sheet, implying that he must have been doing something wrong that justified the cops gunning him down.

“Some may know Alton sold CDs, and was doing just that. Not bothering anyone. I will not allow him to be swept in the dirt,” Quinyetta McMillon, 31, mother of Sterling’s 15-year-old son, told a rally of some 200 people outside City Hall hours after the shooting.

A July 8 noon rally organized by the NAACP at the state Capitol attracted nearly 200 people. Among the speakers were representatives of the Nation of Islam, the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“I’m here because without unity there will be no justice,” Virgin Powell, 61, a retired chef, told the Militant.

“Anyone with any heart should be out here,” said Ashley Ferdinand, 32, a retail worker at Whole Foods. “We have to be unified. We can’t trust the government.”

The Sterling family lawyer has called on the police to release the cop car dashcam and body camera footage. Baton Rouge police Lt. Jonny Dunnam claims that during the altercation, the body cameras became dislodged. The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation on July 6.

In the midst of the nationwide protests against the killings of Sterling and Castile five Dallas cops were gunned down July 7 near the end of a march there.

Dallas police say that Micah Johnson, 25, a U.S. military veteran of the war in Afghanistan, was the lone gunman. Police Chief David Brown said that Johnson stated “he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

The Dallas cops used a robot to place a bomb and kill Johnson after he was holed up in a building.

“I do blame former Black Lives Matter protests,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told the press, attempting to link peaceful protests to the killing of the Dallas cops.

“There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans,” the Black Lives Matter Network responded in a statement. “We should reject all of this.”

The attack on the cops in Dallas “has nothing to do with the fight against police brutality and gives a handle to government authorities to slander and attack it,” noted Socialist Workers Party candidates for U.S. president and vice president Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart in a statement the next day.

But the attempts to slander those protesting police brutality for the death of the Dallas cops have fallen flat. Protests against the killing of Sterling and Castile have continued, including protests of thousands in New York City along with actions in Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami and many other cities and towns.
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