Over the span of 36 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday, two black lives were taken by police officers. On Tuesday Alton Sterling was shot and killed by two Baton Rouge officers who claimed to have an altercation with him outside a convenience store. The police were responding to a report of a man outside the store with a gun. They claim that Sterling had a gun, but the videos of the shooting do not show Sterling having a gun. In the videos someone is heard shouting about Sterling having a gun, and the police seem to respond to this, but no gun is ever seen. Sterling was dead before it was ever determined if there was a gun on the scene.

On Wednesday an officer pulled over a car in Falcon Heights, Minnesota for a broken taillight. The driver of the car, Philando Castile, informed the officer that he hada gun that is registered and that he hada permit. Castile began to reach for his wallet to get out his license and registration and the officer shothim. The officer shot him four times in total. Philandro's fiance, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the aftermath of the shooting, demanding to know why the officer shot her fiance. It is clear from the video that Castile was not threatening the officer. He was preemptively divulging information to the officer.

Continuation of the Epidemic of Police Violence

Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile are the two latest examples of the horrifying epidemic of police violencepredicated on racism.

2016 is only half done and police have already killed 136 black people. In 2015 police killed 306 black people. The Counted, a database of police-related deaths maintained by The Guardian, shows that"black males between the ages of 15 and 34 were nine times more likely to be killed by police officers than any other demographic.

This group also accounted for 15 percent of all 2015 deaths from law enforcement encounters,despite making up just 2 percent of the U.S. population." The numbers show that black men's lives are in danger when they come in to contact with the police.

The circumstances matter

In the cases of both Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile it is clear that the police acted without confirming whether there was actually a threat to their safety or public safety.

Unfortunately, this is almost always the case in encounters with police where black peopleend up dead. The officers involved act in the heat of the moment and react with deadly force instead of appropriate force. They reach for their guns instead of negotiating or instead of using non-lethal force.

The public seeks accountability

Punishment for the officers involved in these shootings has proven elusive. According to the New York Daily News none of the officers that were charged with murder or manslaughter in 2015 were convicted. Most recently, the cop involved in the death of Freddy Gray was found not guilty on all charges. The public has made their outrage at the lack of police accountability clear.

They have demanded convictions in the shootings of Sterling and Castile. Government officials in both Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights have promised thorough investigations. Organizations throughout the country, most prominentlyBlack Lives Matter, are continuing to call for extensive reform of the policing system. They and thousands of others believe that justice will only be served when these police officers are held accountable for their actions.

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