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CCTV America Insight: Anger in US over police killings of black men


07-22-2016 06:10 BJT

Police-involved shootings of African Americans have sparked intense outrage in the United States. Recently, officers in two cities found themselves under siege. First, a black man killed five officers in Dallas, Texas. Then, a different black man killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The early days of the U.S. civil rights movement happened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Decades later, African Americans in Baton Rouge and across the country are still fighting for their civil rights.

Police killings of black men, including Alton Sterling, have reignited the fight.

That incident, captured on camera, sparked large protests in Baton Rouge and beyond.

“I think it represented an issue that the community and law enforcement have not only in Baton Rouge but nationwide,” Cleve Dunn, Jr., Baton Rouge entrepreneur, said. “In particular, black and brown communities when there’s an interaction between us and law enforcement.”

Dunn pointed to the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Charleston, South Carolina. The perpetrators were white, and lived.

He said he believes if the perpetrators had been black, they would not be alive today.

On July 17, a 29-year-old black man traveled from a neighboring state heavily armed to hunt cops. He killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, just 10 days after another black gunman did the same in Dallas, Texas.

The shootings come amid a backdrop of deeply rooted racial tension.

Baton Rouge is literally divided by race. North of the Florida Boulevard, a main road in the heart of the city, it’s predominantly black, to the south it’s predominantly white.

“North Baton Rouge doesn’t have as high of income — household income — as south Baton Rouge,” Dunn said. “North Baton Rouge, the crime rate is higher than south Baton Rouge.”

Interactions between police and black men are common in Baton Rouge. That’s keeping tensions high, according to city councilwoman, Erika Green.

“When you would go to the location where Alton [Sterling] was killed, you would probably see more police officers there on a regular day,” Green said.

Police said they are simply responding to areas of higher crime rates. Now, in the wake of the killings of officers, they’re considering doing even more.

“This guy in Baton Rouge made shots from over 100 yards. How do you protect yourself against that?” Donovan Livaccari, New Orleans Police Union, said.

The neighboring New Orleans Police Union is calling for more armor and weaponry for officers. The department has already encouraged police to respond to calls in pairs. Other U.S. cities are now doing the same.

“We have to be prepared for certain instance that could be much more severe than your average interaction,” Livaccari said.

Green and Dunn said they fear this course of action will lead to more mistrust between police and the public.

“This was an active shooter, you should respond with militarization,” Dunn said. “I get it, I understand that, but prior to that, you responded with militarization with peaceful protesters.”

“It does cause more tension,” Green said.

But they both said their city doesn’t have to stay divided.

“Have a conversation,” Green said. “See what you have in common and see how you got to where you are and I think you’ll get a different perspective about people.”

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