Wednesday evening, people from the Charlotte area joined hands in Midwood Park to show solidarity with Alton Sterling, a black Baton Rouge, La., man who was fatally shot by police officers Tuesday.
Charlotte resident Ashley Williams created the event, a candlelight vigil, on Facebook. She said activists she’d talked to from Baton Rouge wanted people in other cities to speak out.
“I’m hoping that we can also use this opportunity to bring folks together to heal but also teach them about what’s going on,” Williams said. “Hopefully this makes them hyper-aware of what’s going on in Charlotte.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the video-recorded killing of Sterling, who was shot as he scuffled with two white police officers on the pavement outside a convenience store.
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Sterling’s shooting comes just after the death of Jai “Jerry” Williams, an Asheville man who was fatally shot by police July 2. It also comes as House Bill 972, which would restrict public access to police body cameras, waits for Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature. Though Sterling’s death is one of more than 560 police shootings in 2016 so far, and one of more than 130 police shootings of African-Americans, people in Charlotte still felt the loss and the need for action.
“My reaction was, you know, not again, and to be honest it saddens me to not really be so much surprised that this has happened again,” attendee Tameka Whittlesey said. “I just felt like I had to do something to help move forward.”