We can not give in ‘to feelings of impotent rage,’ 100 Black Men say
Through its president Michael Victorian, The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge released the following statement Thursday morning following the U.S. Justice Department decision on the Alton Sterling case on May 3
Baton Rouge (LA) Alton Sterling’s death is a tragedy. It is compounded further by the Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against the officers involved in his death. We respect Alton’s life and mourn the loss to his family and friends. We also state, categorically, that Mr. Sterling’s life mattered. The lives of the young African-American men and women who we mentor, matter and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge will continue to do everything within its power to help young people reach their full potential. The systematic conditions that led to Mr. Sterling’s tragic death must be met head on with love, compassion, and an unwavering determination to help make all of our communities safe and economically vibrant.
We recognize that the findings released on yesterday are frustrating. However, we urge all people of goodwill to use this moment as a call for greater and more meaningful engagement. It is meaningful and constructive to vent, protest, and fully engage in the democratic process. However, we cannot give in, though, to feelings of impotent rage through acts of violence. Such action will only endanger our community.
We call on those who wish to improve the lives of people here at the corner of Fairfield and N. Foster Drive (Baton Rouge, LA) to get directly involved in dismantling injustice. Furthermore, we applaud the leadership of our East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome who early in her administration took steps to execute much needed reforms to the Baton Rouge Police Department, including these five policy changes:
1. Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.
2. Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force. De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
3. Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
4. Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
5. Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer
In order for these policies to have their intended effect, the Baton Rouge Police Department and its leadership must take active measures to ensure that those officers that do not comply with these policies will face serious significant discipline.
The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge is committed to continuing to engage our youth and families to strengthen our community. We hope that area citizens will answer this call to a crisis and set an example to the nation and the world as they watch.
One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, LTD. is a non-profit organization through which African-American males step forward and assume roles of community leadership, responsibility, and guidance. Michael Victorian currently serves as the president and chairman of the board.