Statement on Police Shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights

Police Accountability, Racial Justice

Statement on Police Shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are ‘isolated.’ They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths…warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.” Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Utah v. Strieff

This week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile became part of the growing list of people of color killed by the police. At the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, we express our deepest sympathies to the Sterling and Castile families.

Police killed Mr. Sterling, father of five, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while selling CDs outside of his friend’s convenience store.

Police killed Mr. Castile during a routine traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, while in the company of his partner and her child.

Videos of the shootings are circulating online, and communities across the country are horrified and outraged. The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Mr. Sterling’s killing. This investigation must result in meaningful reforms and greater institutional accountability. As a society, we must also fundamentally alter our concept of public safety so that all of our communities are allowed to feel safe. At the Lawyers’ Committee, we will continue to demand changes to police practices to ensure that everyone is afforded equal protection and justice under the law.

In an interview on New England Cable News, our Executive Director discusses what it will take to restore trust between police and communities of color: