Baton Rouge Finds Its Way Through Disaster

Baton Rouge Finds Its Way Through Disaster


Baton Rouge

Many incidents occurred in 2016 in the seemingly disaster-prone city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but the city still finds its way. These incidents include police shootings and flooding.

On July5, Alton Sterling was selling CDs in the parking lot of the Triple S Food Mart. An anonymous person called the police said that Sterling had threatened him with a gun.

Officers Howi Lake II and Blake Salamoni responded and detained Sterling at 12:35 p.m. As one can see from the YouTube video, they pinned him down. Sterling muttered something and they then said, “He has got a gun!” twice. They pulled their guns out, pointed them at his chest, and then one of the officers shot him.

This lit outrage for the excessive force used. It warranted protests throughout the country. People held rallies in front of the Baton Rouge precinct and then regrouped in front of city hall. Black Lives Matter held a candlelight vigil in Baton Rouge on the night of July 6.

“The United States is far from recognizing the same rights for all its citizens. Existing measures to address racist crimes motivated by prejudice are insufficient and have failed to stop the killings,” Ricardo A. Sunga III, the Chair of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, stated.

Gavin Long killed Officers Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and Brad Garafola on July 17. He did this because the death of Sterling had angered him.

The Marines discharged him after he had served from 2005 to 2010 and an additional seven months in Iraq. When Long returned he told his doctor he had PTSD, his medical files noted.

His doctor also wrote that he had “informed patient that in this writer’s opinion, he did not meet the…criteria for PTSD.” His doctor still gave him the antidepressant citalopram.

The shooter had posted videos on YouTube. Long claimed in his videos that he had entered but left the Nation of Islam. He had additionally identified as a black separatist, and the New Freedom Group had hosted him as a member.

Authorities speculated that the killings were planned so well that Long had stayed a few days in Baton Rouge before July 17.

Someone called the police about a suspicious man with a rifle on July 17, but the police downplayed it because of Louisiana’s open carry law. When officers arrived on the scene, he fired on the first responding officers. Those three officers died.

A sniper then shot and killed Long. Figures like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton then condemned his act. Obama also visited the families of Sterling and the officers in Baton Rouge. Even after this, the city of Baton Rouge finds its way through each disaster.

Rain poured down on August 12 until it flooded Baton Rouge, and only three days later, three had died. The flood destroyed tens of thousands of houses. It also ravaged countless lives.

Sean Illing, political writer for Salon voiced his feelings on the matter. He wrote that it appears the media would rather focus on Justin Bieber and his status on Instagram rather than write about “the sufferings of flyover country.”

Despite that, hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the country have aided Baton Rouge. These volunteers continue to aid them without rest.

“We have come together,” said Quinyetta McMillon, who is the mother of Sterling’s son Cameron.

“I hope that is an eye-opener for everyone,” said he who used to buy DVDs and CDs from Sterling, Inez Bowie. “It’s not just black people, it’s not just white people. Everyone has lost.”

Does Baton Rouge stand easily on its feet? Baton Rouge wobbles on and on. Reparations continue and most try not to feel melancholy because what has happened, has happened. Thus, the city of Baton Rouge manages to find its way through the disasters.

By Osveen Funwi
Edited by Cathy Milne

CBS: Baton Rouge shooter told VA doc he had PTSD over graphic videos
Los Angeles Times: Baton Rouge police shooting updates: Gunman had been in city for several days before attack, police say
Business Report: National media criticized for ignoring gravity of Louisiana flooding
New York Times: After Baton Rouge Flooding, Learning Lessons From New Orleans
Scientific American: Why the Deadly Louisiana Flood Occurred

Image Courtesy of Marin Katerberg’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License