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Citizenship

Reasons 7 police shooting victims were stopped in the first place

As this week’s headlines flood your social media feed — Alton Sterling was killed by a police officer on Tuesday, Philando Castile was killed by a police officer on Wednesday; 5 police officers were killed and six more wounded by a sniper, who said he was upset at those shootings, Thursday night — there’s a common thread that strings these events together.

Sterling and Castile are the latest examples of black men being killed by police officers. But what sparked the initial confrontation between the officers and men in the first place? The reasons, though some against the law, were never worth the life of a human being.

Name: Eric Garner

Age: 43

Location: Staten Island, N.Y.

Garner was stopped by police officers and put in a deadly chokehold after selling “loosies,” or loose cigarettes. Chokeholds are prohibited by police enforcement.

Name: Tamir Rice

Age: 12

Location: Cleveland

The 12-year-old was shot and killed after reportedly playing with a fake gun in the park. Reports say the gun appeared real but was probably fake. Rice was shot within seconds of police arrival.

Name: Freddie Gray

Age: 25

Location: Baltimore

Gray was arrested after making eye contact with officers and fleeing. He was cuffed at his wrists and ankles and put in the back of a van to be transported. Police failed to fasten his seatbelt, and Gray suffered a fatal neck injury on the way to jail.

Name: Michael Brown

Age: 18

Location: Ferguson, Mo.

Brown was shot and killed after stealing a few packs of cigarillos from a corner store. The shooting of the unarmed, 18-year-old sparked major protests in Ferguson that captured national attention.

Name: Walter Scott

Age: 43

Location: North Charleston, S.C.

Scott was stopped by police for a broken taillight and was shot eight times by the officer who pulled him over after fleeing.

Name: Philando Castile

Age: 32

Location: Falcon Heights, Minn.

Castile was also shot and killed by an officer after being pulled over by an officer for a broken taillight.  

Name: Alton Sterling

Age: 37

Location: Baton Rouge

Sterling was fatally shot after officers responded to a call from an someone who said they had been threatened by a man with a gun, which was legal to carry, at a convenience store.

These victims and many, many others have had their lives taken by the people who are supposed to protect them.

In a speech President Obama delivered Thursday night in response to the shootings, he gave some startling statistics that help give context to these tragic shootings:

“African-Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over. After being pulled over, African-Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched. Last year, African-Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites. African-Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites. African-American defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime. So if you add it all up, the African-American and Hispanic population who make up only 30 percent of the general population make up more than half of the incarcerated population. Now, these are facts.”

In 2016 alone, there have been 509 shootings by police officers, according to the Washington Post. That number continues to grow, especially among black males.

There have been major strides to end racism in the US, but these shootings are evidence that it still exists. The Black Lives Matter movement began in July 2013 and has been fighting for the rights and lives of oppressed minorities.

As more and more lives are being lost, it is important to stand in solidarity against prejudice. So #showup and make your voices heard, Global Citizens.