Family and friends of recently slain Alton Sterling, 37, gathered to pay their final respects from Southern University Friday afternoon. Sterling, a father of five, was shot dead July 5 by Baton Rouge, Louisiana police. Sterling’s death has sparked a national controversy over police brutality in America.
In addition to family and friends, Alton Sterling’s funeral has also brought together a group of anti-violence supporters.
Sterling was selling CD’s outside the Triple S Food mart when officers responded to a call claiming someone fitting Sterling’s description had threatened them with a gun.
Though conflicting accounts state Sterling did not have a weapon, officers took the Louisiana native to the ground and after an apparent struggle, one of the officers allegedly fatally shot Sterling in the chest.
Video footage of the brief encounter between Sterling and officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, both 28-years-old, was recorded by an onlooker. The video showing Sterling’s final moments before perishing is extremely graphic in nature.
In addition to Sterling’s publicly leaked death, the next day, Diamond Reynolds’ Facebook Live stream of Philando Castro’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer sparked national riots.
Due to the high-visibility and harrowing nature of the leaked videos, public fury and derision has boiled over in the past two weeks.
Though Sterling’s life ended in unfortunate extreme violence, those who knew the man describe him as hard working, caring and a decent individual.
The mother of Sterling’s oldest child, Quinyetta McMillon had these words for USA Today in memory of Sterling. “He is not what the mass media is making him out to be. Adding that reporting of his criminal record was being used to “obscure the image of a man who simply tried to earn a living to take care of his children.”
Alton Sterling’s eldest son, Cameron, held court with President Obama last night during a town hall addressing the nation’s recent spate of violent shootings.
Cameron Sterling was noted for his compassion and concern when he stated live on CNN, via ABC News:
“I’ve come to ask one question, I ask that you keep all of these families and my family safe and the people and the rest of the good police officers safe from bad people and bad police officers. And I ask for your help to unite all the races of this world.”
To young Cameron’s poignant words, President Obama responded: “Let me just first of all say, obviously how proud we are of you Cameron to be able to be here and speak.”I couldn’t have done that when I was 15, particularly in these circumstances, so I know your family is proud of you.”
President Obama continued, “We all have hopes and dreams and families and children and we all want the best for them. But because of the history of this country and the legacy of race and all the complications that are involved in that, working through these issues so that things can continue to get better is going to take some time.”
President Obama further lauded Alton Sterling’s son with the following comments.
“I’m confident they will and a part of why I’m confident about that is that I’m meeting young people like you who honor your father well by making sure that you’re [generous] to police officers as well as dealing with your own grief so, I’m really proud of you.”
Sterling was noted as a caring father who also held an entrepreneurial bent. Known as the “CD Man,” Alton Sterling could be found chatting people up and selling CDs around the Baton Rouge area.
Sterling’s cousin, Elliot, told the Washington Post of Alton’s acumen as a businessman: “He was really good at selling those CDs. He couldn’t make it in a regular job, but he could make it selling CDs. He could converse with everybody.”
Even former LSU star basketball player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was enamored with “Big Alton’s” affable spirit. The NBA veteran had this to say concerning his efforts to help Alton Sterling put food on his family’s plate.
“Great guy, big personality. CDs were his way to make income to support his family,” Davis told TMZ. “Not a guy who would use violence at all.”
Though the circumstances of Alton Sterling’s death remain largely unknown, those who knew him best paint a commendable picture of the man.
[AP Photo/Max Becherer]