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Less than 2 weeks in July in the U.S.: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Dallas, Baton Rouge

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A racially charged narrative has re-emerged in the U.S. due to fatal shootings of black men by white officers as well as the shooting deaths of eight officers in Texas and Louisiana.

This round of violence — and protests against such violence — began and continued this weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Here’s a look at what’s happened in the span of less than two weeks in July:


The 37-year-old black man had been a fixture for several years outside of a convenience store, where he sold CDs. That night, two white police officers — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II — pinned him to the pavement during an altercation and fatally shot him. Police have said Sterling, who as a convicted felon was barred from legally carrying a gun, was armed and an eyewitness said he had a gun in his pocket.

Sterling’s death was captured on cellphone video by an anti-violence group and spread quickly online, sparking days of protests in the city where 54 percent of the population is black and more than 25 percent live in poverty.

The U.S. Justice Department has opened a federal civil rights investigation into Sterling’s death and has made it clear it does not want a parallel local investigation. The officers are on administrative leave and had prior “use of force” complaints.

Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor, was driving in a St. Paul suburb with his girlfriend and her young daughter in the car when police pulled them over. Castile, who was black, was shot by Latino officer Jeronimo Yanez. Castile died at a hospital.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, began livestreaming on Facebook shortly after the shooting and said that Castile was shot while reaching for his ID after telling the officer he had a gun permit and was armed. The next day, Reynolds told reporters that Castile informed the officer about the gun as he reached for his wallet, she told him Castile was licensed and then the officer fired shots.

Yanez and his partner, Joseph Kauser, who was present for the shooting, were placed on administrative leave. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating, while the federal Justice Department is staying on the sideline despite pleas from the governor and other officials.

Philando Castile

Philando Castile


Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Dallas to peacefully protest Sterling’s and Castile’s deaths. Then shots rang out, aimed at police officers. Five were killed and nine were injured, two civilians were hurt. Authorities negotiated with 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a black military veteran who police said told them he was targeting white officers because of the recent shootings, but eventually used a robot-delivered bomb to kill him.

Initially, Dallas authorities said Johnson had a stockpile of bomb-making materials, though two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity contradicted such claims recently. Johnson’s friends and family also disagreed with officials’ characterization of him as a loner, saying that he was a gregarious, colorblind extrovert — at least until he returned from Afghanistan after being accused of sexual harassment.

The Dallas mayor and police chief called for calm in the wake of the shooting. President Barack Obama and wife, Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden and wife, Jill, and former President George W. Bush and wife, Laura, attended a large memorial service for the officers.

Memorial remembers five slain Dallas police officers

Memorial remembers five slain Dallas police officers

Memorial outside Dallas PD

Memorial outside Dallas PD


The day after the Dallas shooting, officers in Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia were all shot and wounded, with at least two of them being racially motivated.

Protesters were undaunted, rallying daily in Baton Rouge, outside of governor’s residences in Minnesota and Georgia and blocking interstates in Atlanta, Minneapolis and Memphis, Tennessee. All were mostly calm affairs, with some arrests.

In Baton Rouge, however, where an invisible line segregates the southern white section of town from the mostly black part in the north, tensions came to a head the weekend of July 9. Police arrested more than 200 demonstrators over a three-day period and wore riot gear, carried rifles and drove armored vehicles. Protesters claimed authorities became agitated, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana questioned police tactics during peaceful protests.

On July 12, police in Baton Rouge said they had arrested four people who were accused of stealing several handguns as part of a “substantial, credible threat” to harm police officers in the area.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie on Tuesday said officers have arrested three people they believe were planning to kill police in the Louisiana city.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie on Tuesday said officers have arrested three people they believe were planning to kill police in the Louisiana city.


At 8:44 a.m. Sunday, reports began coming in that officers had been shot less than a mile from police headquarters. Three died and three were critically injured. One of the officers killed was Montrell Jackson, a black man who wrote on Facebook days before “I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me.”

Louisiana authorities said the suspect, Gavin Long, a black 29-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, was definitely “seeking out” police. He was shot and killed Sunday.

Long, who had served in the Marines for five years and been deployed to Iraq, changed his name last year and declared membership in a black separatist group that considers itself beyond the reach of state and federal laws. Online posts by a man using an alias of Long’s said people must fight back after the deaths of black men at the hands of police.

Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, Brad Garafola -- Officers killed in Baton Rouge

Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, Brad Garafola — Officers killed in Baton Rouge

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