MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

How Local Anti-Violence Activists Brought the Alton Sterling Shooting Video to the Public

A group founded by a former gang member brought transparency to the shooting after officers' body cams "fell off."

Alton SterlingThe AdvocateThe initial video of Alton Sterling's shooting — which began to go viral shortly after being uploaded to the internet late Tuesday — was not shot by random bystanders who happened upon the scene, but rather by members of Stop the Killing, a Louisiana-based group of activists whose mission is "To stop the violence and senseless killings in our communities," according to their website. 

The group's founder, Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed, is a former gang member who writes in his bio that he spent "12 years bouncing between gang life and prison" before finding his calling as an anti-violence activist, youth counselor, radio host, and filmmaker who creates work "geared to expose violence and senseless killings in communities throughout America."

Reed's group has access to police scanners, and as a practice, heads to scenes of potential violence, sometimes capturing murders on video and using the footage in documentaries geared at scaring young people straight from the potential allure of a life of crime.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Reed says members of Stop the Killing heard a call on their scanner which led them to the fateful scene of Sterling's shooting:

Early Tuesday morning, members of his team — he wouldn't say who, nor confirm he was present, citing safety concerns — filmed the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling outside the Triple S Food Mart. After police did not immediately release any footage of the shooting, Reed and his team uploaded the video to Facebook and Instagram at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

'We see a great injustice, and we wanted it to be known," Reed said. "We're forcefully seeking justice. This is a civil rights movement, and this is the continuation of same struggle that black people have been going through for so many years."

By uploading the video, Reed could ensure that people would know exactly what happened.

Reed also told the Post that his group does not normally release violent footage to the public over social media, but that he felt compelled to do so in this case because "This is our third killing here in Baton Rouge by the police department."

The officers involved with Sterling's death — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake — were both wearing body cameras, but both claim their cams "fell off" during the altercation. If not for the footage shot by Stop the Killing members, as well as the cell phone footage released by Triple S Food Mart owner Abdullah Muflahi, the public would have only the police version of events to go by. This is why maximum transparency, ideally provided by both the public and the police, is necessary to properly adjudicate tragedies like this.

Read more of Reason's coverage of the goverment's War on Cameras here

Photo Credit: The Advocate

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • R C Dean||

    The officers involved with Sterling's death — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake

    Mad props for publishing their names. Perhaps we could get some pix of them as well?

  • timbo||

    Baton down the hatches. There's going to be some protests soon.

    And of course by protests, we all know that means burning down some neighbor's sh*t.

    Can't the protesters just get used to getting f*cked by politicians just like the rest of us?

    I might not get profiled but I know what is happening with the broken economy and corrupt central planners. I am just keeping my head down however. Don't see the value in destroying stuff when the result is more of the same.

    Call me a-hole if nothing burns down this weekend.

    At last these cops have a better chance of being prosecuted. Seems pretty egregious use of force to me. Or, they 'll walk. I'm too tired to care actually.

  • esteve7||

    Statist: So you're saying the solution is to ban police scanners, right?

  • All-Seeing Monocle||

    Not ban them, no, that would be silly.

    Just some reasonable, common-sense regulations about who can own them.

  • ||

    Too many of them already out there.

    But, I believe the po-po are moving to spread-spectrum radio which renders old-school scanners worthless.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The new ones are expensive

  • JSpey||

    My county just switched to encrypted radios. The reason? You guessed it, officer safety of course.

    http://www.ifiberone.com/news/.....c771a.html

  • SugarFree||

    You know what would be *really* fucked up but not entirely outside the realm of possibility (IMO)? The BLM activist in the car, who shot the first video, having some sort of altercation with Sterling and precipitating his death/initiating force/invoking escalation.

  • bacon-magic||

    He swatted him? That would be very fucked up, almost Clintonesque.

  • SugarFree||

    Being clear, I'm spitballing hypotheticals rather than attempting to prognosticate facts not in evidence. I think it would mostly be a 'trial in the court of public opinion' sort of thing, but anything that they charge people with SWATting for; false report, conspiracy, misscarriage/obstruction, hoax...

    More to my point, cops staging/fabricating a 911 call to roll up on and kill a petty criminal seems like a lot of hassle and risk, both criminal and physical, for not a lot of (apparent/currently obvious) payoff. Meanwhile, getting a patsy executed and while you sit back and film the whole thing to advance your political cause seems like a crystal clear conspiracy theory practically begging to be perpetrated if it hasn't already.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure the 911 call was real. And I think the guy did have a gun. Its the part where they roll out of their patrol car, throw him, down, sit on him, then shoot him. Especially the part where they shoot him while sitting on him and controlling his arms, that I believe to be illegal and wish would stop immediately.

  • R C Dean||

    Why would the cops fabricate a call just to grease somebody? They don't need a call for that. They just need, not a reason, maybe more of an urge.

  • R C Dean||

    Why would the cops fabricate a call just to grease somebody? They don't need a call for that. They just need, not a reason, maybe more of an urge.

  • junyo||

    Thing is, that conspiracy theory only works if you can be assured that the police are bad at their jobs, and will escalate needlessly and initiate force....

    ...okay, yeah. Carry on.

  • Riven||

    SugarFree, I expect better from you. You have got to be kidding.

  • SugarFree||

    Or, at the very least, getting someone killed in a quasi-legal fashion and then branding yourself as innocent in the court of public opinion by declaring yourself to be a part of the BML movement seems just as predictable as cops getting a call about a violent felon and him ending up dead.

  • ||

    IT DUN WHUT BE A COSPRINACY

  • RBS||

    You might want to search one of the earlier threads...

  • SugarFree||

    Aw, man. I was just getting warmed up.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Get a load of this guy, thinking he was on the ground floor of something.

  • SugarFree||

    Like you're getting anything but the steak knives.

  • Riven||

    Night of the long (steak) knives. Could be a good time.

  • ||

    You got the right tone, though. "Idiot using lots of words like he thinks smart people must" isn't easy to imitate.

  • SugarFree||

  • ||

    IT WUZ TEH NIGGERS ALL ALONG

  • RBS||

    You know, right as I hit submit I realized I probably shouldn't.

  • SugarFree||

    No one wants Riven thinking badly of us.

  • Riven||

    I could never think any worse of any of you than I already do.

    Then again, I'm pretty comfortable here, so what's that say?

  • SugarFree||

    That you are ours now. Welcome.

  • Riven||

  • Azathoth!!||

    Gooble, gobble, gooble, gobble!

    one of us!

  • Adans smith||

    I'm sure those body cams were held on by the finest scotch tape money can buy.

  • SugarFree||

    And still would have recorded the oh so important "we haven't seen what led up to this!!111!!!" part of the murder, but once they fell off, I guess they exploded or something.

  • RBS||

    I imagine they just hit them with the glue stick a couple of times and slap them on wherever.

  • ||

    And I'm sure that the cam manufacturer, knowing the conditions in which the cameras would most likely be used, used a shoddy, substandard clip prone to falling off.

  • Chipwooder||

    No need. A wad of chewed gum is the preferred method.

  • Spartacus||

    I haven't looked at any of the video...I wonder if you can see the officers' body cams and see whether or not they actually fell off. Probably can't see that level of detail, but if you could tell whether they were actually wearing their cams or not that would be helpful.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The officers involved with Sterling's death...

    Come on. We're all adults here. You can say it.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I was involved with taking a dump this morning. The details are a little fuzzy.

  • Riven||

    Fuzzy? You should probably get checked.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    The Kefir was past the sell by.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    "The officers involved with Sterling's death — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake — were both wearing body cameras, but both claim their cams "fell off" during the altercation. "


    Fine. Show me footage of the cameras falling off. You have footage of that, right? RIGHT?

  • ||

    That is a damn good question. Show us the footage you do have.

  • Adans smith||

    The scotch tape has to go across the lens to hold the cam on.

  • R C Dean||

    "I always carry the body cam in my pocket. The sergeant told me I had to have it on me, but if it got lost or damaged it was coming out of my paycheck, so I figured my pocket was the best place for it."

  • bacon-magic||

    Turns out a bum swatted Alton...

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I'm not sure if swatted is the right word.

  • bacon-magic||

    My bad, I was running with SF's conspiracy mockery above.

  • ||

    mad.casual|7.7.16 @ 1:17PM|#

    *tips spangenhelm appreciatively*

    I left off the part where the local crooked public official, tired of dealing with the BLM movement, orchestrates the whole thing.

  • AlmightyJB||

    They're not going to jail

  • Uncle Jay||

    How Local Anti-Violence Activists Brought the Alton Sterling Shooting Video to the Public
    A group founded by a former gang member brought transparency to the shooting after officers' body cams "fell off."

    We must always give police officers the benefit of the doubt when they are busy shooting people.
    Otherwise the police might be held accountable for their actions.
    That would be the first step toward dismantling our beloved police state.
    I couldn't sleep at night knowing there isn't an army of police watching me and everything I do and say.

  • The Fusionist||

    I think I understand why the initial police reports in these cases are so miminalist - before committing to a particular story they want to know if there are any independent videos out there which might contradict the official account and make everything awkward.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online