In the wake of Alton Sterling’s shooting, Baton Rouge leaders are calling upon Al Sharpton for support. On Rev. Sharpton’s National Action Network website, a press release announced that a letter had been submitted by Rev. Shelton Charles Dixon of the Greater Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.
Local leaders and Black Lives Matter activists agree with Al Sharpton’s speculation about the many possibilities of a bias investigation despite the incriminating footage and the case being turned over to the Department of Justice. In an effort to obtain the highest level of justice for the family, local leaders believe Rev. Al Sharpton’s presence may help.
“We are outraged by the video tape showing Alton Sterling being shot by Baton Rouge police officers while he was restrained and are calling for an immediate, fair and impartial investigation and justice for his family,” Rev. Dixon wrote to Al Sharpton. “In order to achieve justice we are seeking the presence of Rev. Sharpton and National Action Network (NAN) in Baton Rouge to meet with the family of Mr. Sterling because of NAN’s long track record of assisting families who are victims of police misconduct.”
“There will always be emotion evoked in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy like this and when there is a life lost. We are seeking the involvement of an organization like National Action Network because we want to ensure that the fight for justice will continue even when the cameras go away,” said Rev. Dixon.
As expected, the request for Al Sharpton has led to criticism from Blue Lives Matter supporters everywhere. Since many are focusing on Alton Sterling’s past criminal record instead of the matter at hand, they only see a “thug” who was killed for resisting an officer.
Despite being tased, blue supporters believe Alton should not have even flinched, and he may not have caused his own death by his actions. The perplexing perspective has sparked quite a debate on social media as Black Lives Matter supporters see things through different eyes arguing that there was nothing he could have done to survive that night. This is exactly the point Rev. Al Sharpton has constantly argued as part of his ongoing fight against police brutality.
Watch for Fake Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to lead anti-cop marches in Baton Rouge.— John Crusader (@John40711616) July 7, 2016
However, there’s a possibility Rev. Al Sharpton may not make the trip to Baton Rouge. With the presidential election drawing near, Al Sharpton has been focused on the next potential candidate to take the oval. So, will his prior obligation take precedence over a community crisis caused by an issue he’s known for tackling?
In past highly publicized incidents, the National Action Network usually released an official announcement stating that he’d be traveling to the location where the shooting took place, but this time around he’s been relatively silent about making a trip. Although Al Sharpton has admitted that Alton Sterling’s death was the result of excessive force and careless actions, he’s said very little about traveling to Baton Rouge, and it is unclear whether he’ll be supporting the family of Alton Sterling. The seemingly slow reaction raises speculation because, in the past, Al Sharpton wasted no time traveling to be with the families of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner.
Since Al Sharpton is a supporter of Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, and he also has a longstanding friendship with Donald Trump, it’s unclear whether the recent shootings will take precedence over his busy schedule. In fact, Al Sharpton is scheduled to headline an upcoming concert on the eve of the Republican National Convention, according to Cleveland.com.
“The event provides a forum for advocates to publicly call on Republicans on the day before the opening of the RNC to articulate clear domestic and global policies on HIV/AIDS, income inequality and other critical social-justice issues,” Tracy Jones, the foundation’s midwest regional director and national director of advocacy campaigns, said in a statement.
The shooting death of Alton Sterling has made national headlines over the past two days. On July 5, he was gunned down by two officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department. The investigation into his death will be ongoing.
Update: Al Sharpton has confirmed that will be arriving in Baton Rouge, LA later this week.
[Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon]