Members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a press conference on Friday to address the recent events involving the shooting deaths of two black men at the hands of police officers.
On Tuesday, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 37-year-old Alton Sterling lost his life after being pinned to the ground by two cops and was shot in the chest at point-blank range. Police claim that Sterling had a gun and the officer felt his life was in danger.
However, one of two cell phone videos shows an officer retrieving what looks to be a small gun from Sterling’s pocket after the shooting, leading many to speculate that Sterling didn’t have the weapon in his hand when he was shot.
Conservatives are making the case that Sterling was a dangerous thug who resisted and was shot justifiably because as it turns out, he did have a criminal record.
They argue that although Sterling didn’t have the gun in his hand, the fact he had it on his person constituted a justifiable reason for the police to use deadly force. Louisiana is an “open-carry” state, which makes it legal for people to display firearms on their bodies as long as they have a special license.
On Wednesday in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, his girlfriend Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, and her young daughter were pulled over by officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser for an alleged broken tail light.
Reynolds was driving and Castile was seated in the passenger seat. Reynolds’ daughter was in the back seat.
According to a Facebook Live video recordedt by Reynolds on her cell phone immediately after the shooting, Castile informed Yanez that he was a concealed carry holder, and he had his weapon on him. Reynolds claimed that Yanez told Castile to produce his identification, and as Castile reached for his wallet, the officer opened fire on Castile, shooting him four times.
Reynolds eerily narrated the event with a somewhat calm demeanor while she watched her boyfriend die before her eyes.
According to Reynolds, Castile complied in good faith with every order he was given by the officer.
Castile had no criminal record and was legally licensed to conceal carry in the state of Minnesota.
The silence from the National Rifle Association involving both cases was deafening, but their silence regarding Castile’s death is especially disturbing because, by all indications, Castile was the kind of law-abiding gun owner that the NRA has sworn to defend.
In regards to the shooting of Alton Sterling, police had no way of knowing if he was a legal gun owner before they shot him.
On Friday, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) gave an impassioned speech ridiculing the NRA for what he described as its hypocrisy regarding the treatment of black people who are exercising their constitutional rights to own and/or carry firearms.
The hypocrisy there is so blatant,” he said. “I always thought the NRA was not concerned about me. And I hunt and I fish and I own a gun. But the last few days have clarified it for me — that their Second Amendment concern is not a voice of concern for African Americans. And I just believe that we cannot give them a pass on not making a comment.
In 1967, the NRA threw its support behind a bill sponsored by Oakland, California Assemblyman Don Mulford aimed at banning open-carry in the state of California. The main reason they supported this highly invasive form of “gun control” was that they wished to disarm the Black Panthers who often walked the streets open-carrying their firearms. Conservatives and the NRA saw this as highly provocative and decided to target the black group by going after their guns.
Since the passage of the Mulford Act, the NRA has abandoned its call for almost any type of firearm ban or restriction.
Many view that chapter in history as an example of the inherent racism that still runs through the NRA.
Featured image Screengrab via YouTube.