A range of emotions poured through hundreds of Black Lives Matter protestors in Los Angeles on Sunday night—anger, disgust, disbelief, and frustration.
The demonstrators were angry at the fact that two young men—32-year-old Philando Castile and 37-year-old Alton Sterling—were shot to death this past week.
They were disgusted because their deaths came at the hands of police officers.
There was disbelief because neither man deserved to die.
And the frustration was born out of the fact that black people are being gunned down by cops at an alarming rate, yet defenders of the police don’t seem to think there is a need for change because they don’t believe that racism is a problem.
Those were just a few of the issues that prompted Black Lives Matter to shut down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. It is believed that the occupation was unplanned and that the event began as a community meeting.
At some point, the group poured into the street, blocking all lanes of the freeway and marching toward the iconic Inglewood bakery, Randy’s Donuts. It is reported that protestors chanted, “Hey ho, hey ho, these racist cops have got to go,” and, “no justice, no peace.”
— CreateLex (@CreateLex) July 11, 2016
Once the protestors reached the doughnut shop, they formed a gigantic peace sign. The symbol was appropriate for this particular demonstration, as there were no confrontations with police or reported arrests. This is in sharp contrast to other protests held across the country.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, more than 100 protestors were arrested. Among them was Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson. After being released, Mckesson noted that the Parrish jail staff made protestors wear orange jumpsuits—something he was told was highly unusual.
— Kendrick Sampson (@kendrick38) July 11, 2016
In total, it is estimated that over 300 protestors nationwide were arrested over the weekend. In addition to Baton Rouge and Los Angeles, cities that held demonstrations included New York, Chicago, Nashville, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
St. Paul is the city where Mr. Castile lived. He was shot and killed by an officer during what was initially labeled as a routine stop regarding a broken taillight. However, photographs of the victim’s vehicle would force St. Anthony Police Department to change its tune.
Per audio clips of police radio traffic, it is now believed that Mr. Castile’s vehicle was stopped because he was racially profiled. It appears that one of the officers claimed the occupants looked like suspects from a robbery.
On the recording, an officer could be heard saying, “I’m going to stop the car. I am going to check ID’s. I have reason to pull it over.”
Mr. Castile’s fate that day was determined by the width of his nose, as his nostrils would serve as justification for further questioning. The cop makes this point clear when he says, “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide set nose.”
While the St. Anthony PD refused to comment on the recording, a local St. Paul television station was able to confirm that the license plate mentioned by the officer on the recording matched that of Mr. Castile’s vehicle.
St. Anthony PD has also refused to comment on the robbery that the officer refers to before pulling over Mr. Castile’s vehicle.