Protests against police brutality are spreading across the country in the wake of the fatal police killings of African-American men Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. In Oakland, California, more than 1,000 people blocked Interstate 880 for hours. Hundreds more marched in Denver, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Baton Rouge. More than 40 people were arrested amid a massive march in New York City. Democracy Now! spoke to some of the protesters.
AMY GOODMAN : Protests against police brutality spread across the country in the wake of the fatal police killings of African-American men Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. In Oakland, California, more than a thousand people blocked Interstate 880 for hours. Hundreds more marched in Denver, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Baton Rouge. More than 40 people were arrested amidst a massive march here in New York City. Democracy Now! spoke to some of the protesters.
PROTESTERS : Hands up, don’t shoot! Hands up, don’t shoot!
ROCCI MAXWELL : I’m Rocci Maxwell. I’m here marching for justice. It’s just disgusting, because I know it’s a cycle, what’s going to happen, and that there’s pure evidence of cold-blooded slaughter and murder. So, there’s nothing left to do except action. So I’m done playing nonviolently, and it’s time to protest and take action. I want to change the system and the corruptness behind it. So, starting with an indictment, starting with a trial, starting with an investigation, and punishing these murderers for murdering people.
WISE THE LEGEND : My name is Wise the Legend. I’m here because we need a change. We need a change. This could be me. I work with the youth. This could be one of the kids I work with, one of my loved ones. And this is happening in abundance. It’s happening way too much. And we need a change now. We’re demanding freedom, we’re demanding change, and we’re also demanding that there’s something that cops have to pay some penalty for this, more than just their jobs. Cops—we need justice. Cops need to have some kind of repercussion for when this happens, so it can stop happening at such a rapidly rate. They’re all getting off. They are all getting off. This is not by coincidence. We need some kind of law set in stone for the cops when this happen, so they have some kind of price to pay. That’s why I’m here, and that’s what I demand.
PROTESTERS : Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets!
CYNTHIA TURNQUEST-JONES : My name is Cynthia Turnquest-Jones. I am here because, one, I educate a lot of boys; two, I am a mother of boys; and, three, my student, Ramarley Graham, was murdered, and ever since then, I have never stopped. He was murdered by NYPD. He was going into his house. And that, too, was justified. They always try to find justification as to why they murder our boys. So, around two hours after the murder of Alton was leaked, I posted on Facebook that they are now going to seek as to why it was justified, as to why he was murdered. We are demanding that individuals who conduct themselves criminally are charged like criminals. So police officers need to get charged like criminals.
NICK CANNON : I’m Nick Cannon. I’m here because these are our streets. Let’s go. Let’s go! Black Lives Matter!
PROTESTERS : Black Lives Matter!
NINA ROUHANI : My name is Nina Rouhani. In terms of the treatment of Americans by police officers, there is no need for you to shoot a man who is on the ground with his hands to his side, six times. It’s unnecessary. The unnecessary amount of force is really ridiculous, and I think, as a people, it’s really, really, really something heavy on our shoulders, and we feel helpless about it. But what I would ask the police officers to do is to have better training, you know, evaluate them mentally, and don’t have people out on these streets who are just waiting for an opportunity to pull a trigger.
PROTESTERS : Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets!
KYLE HAYES : Yeah, my name is Kyle, Kyle Hayes, and I’m here because I’m sick of waking up and seeing that there’s another black man or person of color—not even men—person of color killed or gunned down by the hands of law enforcement, or in police custody, and with no explanation. I can’t handle anymore. I woke up this morning, I checked my Instafeed, and I said, “Didn’t we just do this yesterday?” And I called my mom, and I just started crying, because the feeling of helplessness that I woke up with this morning was just unbearable. It’s been said they manage to disarm and not kill white people all the time. And you look at—you look at the footage, and it’s like this—you know, these people had to die? You know, you couldn’t disarm or handle the situation in another instance? You know. And so I’m demanding that—I’m not demanding any kind of special treatment. I’m demanding that we get the treatment that every other people—that every other person gets, especially white people.
AMY GOODMAN : The voices of protesters in New York City last night, a massive march going on Fifth Avenue. Special thanks to Juan Carlos Dávila, Ariel Boone and Andre Lewis for that report. Before Mike McClanahan goes off to a news conference, president of the Baton Rouge NAACP, speaking to us from the Louisiana PBS studios, your thoughts as you listen to people in New York and hear people across the country speaking up for Alton Sterling, for Philando Castile? And also, I haven’t asked you yet about what took place in Dallas and the killing of the police officers. Your thoughts?
MICHAEL McCLANAHAN : First and foremost, they’re speaking to years of frustration. They’re speaking to years of being degradated. They’re speaking to years of being separated. They’re seeing loved ones, innocent persons, being killed, being beat up, being brutalized at the hands of those that were charged to serve and protect. And so, what you’re having now is frustration. Frustration. At some point in time, it will erupt beyond just being frustration. So, we have to change the system.
I heard a young lady spoke about how they were justified, find justification for what they do. They do. They have a handbook and a manual that we must get into and change, because based upon that handbook and that manual, they said they did what they were supposed to do and trained to do. That manual probably took place in 1900. It’s 2016. It’s time for that manual to be changed. It’s time for those citizens to sit on the review board that makes these manuals, that creates these manuals and handbooks. It’s time for common people to come and be a part of the total process, not just the process at the end of a gun or sit in as a witness for their loved one.
Also, we speak nonviolence. The NAACP has been around for over a hundred years. We practice nonviolence because we believe that love will only outrun or get rid of hate. We believe light gets rid of darkness. So what we want to do is shine light in dark places. Know that there’s only a few bad apples in the world, be it civilians or police officers, only a few. We must expose the few to get rid of them in our society, because it takes a few to make a whole lot bad.
So, we’re going to continue to fight. And our national president is coming down here in Baton Rouge to let the people of Baton Rouge know that we’re not going to let this go away easily. We’re going to continue to demand justice, not only for Alton, for all the other Altons that came before him and all the other Altons that may come after him. We’re going to continue to fight and demand justice. And I’m going to pray that someone in the system has the backbone to get up and go and arrest these thugs called police officers and put them in jail, and let the quills of justice spin for them, as they spin for others. And we’re going to pray that not another family is being separated, not another child has been lost or has been to be raised without a parent, without a father. And we’re going to pray to God.
AMY GOODMAN : Michael McClanahan, I want to—I want to thank you very much much for joining us, and get comment from Marc Lamont Hill. All the news is now rolling in as we end this broadcast. An update from Dallas: The city’s police chief has just said the Dallas shooter was working alone and wanted to, quote, “kill white officers.” Authorities have not released the name of the suspected shooter, who died after the ambush. Your thoughts?
MARC LAMONT HILL : You know, again, this—and my sources were sort of telling me that, and I began to wonder, you know, what that would mean in the big picture. Obviously, to me, whoever did it, I wasn’t concerned with their race, with anything like that, at the level of—at the human level. But at the level of our movements and our resistance movements, we need to make sure that we don’t conflate, again, one person with a movement. They’re two separate things. This person clearly has mental health issues. This person clearly has some sort of issue that needs to be unpacked and understood. But we can’t link that individual to this movement. There’s been a long—there’s been a lot of long, hard work being done here, and we can’t—we can’t be derailed.
AMY GOODMAN : Marc Lamont Hill and Graham Weatherspoon, I thank you so much for being with us.