Sterling’s killing was part of what compelled Kaepernick to begin his renowned protest during the national anthem.
The world has watched as one unarmed black person after another has been mercilessly killed by police. Often the only ones who suffer any consequences are the victims and their brokenhearted loved ones as their killers frequently evade legal repercussions. According to Colin Kaepernick, that’s no coincidence.
On Tue., March 27, courts ruled the two Louisiana officers responsible for the July 2016 death of Alton Sterling would face no charges. While many were outraged, hardly any were surprised. History continues to repeat itself as the criminal justice system protects police rather than victims — especially when the victim is black.
Sterling was killed after officers responded to a 911 call claiming that a man with a gun was threatening people outside of the Triple S Food Mart. Assuming Sterling was the culprit, officers pursued him and engaged in a tussle with Sterling before shooting him three times in the chest.
It was Sterling’s death that further compelled Kaepernick to begin his peaceful protest of police brutality by not honoring the national anthem prior to the start of NFL games. Two months after Sterling’s death, the former San Francisco 49er began taking a knee during the anthem in silent protest of the social conditions, systematic practices and unfair treatment of black people in this country. The action has left Kaepernick seemingly blackballed by the NFL; however, he continues with his activism.
Knowing that it was Sterling’s life that began Kaepernick’s movement, it’s no surprise that he had a few words regarding the ruling.
“State sanctioned lynching by means of gun violence!” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter on Tuesday in response to the ruling.
According to The New York Daily News, Kaepernick iterated similar sentiments at the time of Sterling’s death:
“This is what lynchings look like in 2016!” he was quoted as saying nearly two years ago. “Another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable? Or did he fear for his life as he executed this man?”
As people continue to fight for gun control, it’s important that such advocacy be all-encompassing and address the urgent nature of police violence. Just last week, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was killed by police in Sacramento after his cellphone was mistaken for a gun. Police officers shot the father of two 20 times.
The more we look at the patterns by the police, the more it seems like the evolution of lynching is happening right before our eyes.