I Do Not Consent: The Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Content note: racist violence. Graphic violent images at some of the links.

Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police on July 5. The police pinned him to the ground and then shot him. I have not watched the video: it has been described as gruesomely brutal, even by police killing standards.

Philando Castile was shot and killed by Minnesota police on July 6 during a traffic stop.

Two black people, killed by police, in two days. And these are not isolated incidents.

There’s some good, important writing about Alton Sterling’s death. (Philando Castile’s death had just happened at the time I wrote this.) Here’s writing by Shaun King; by Lilly Workneh; by Breanna Edwards; by Kirsten West Savali. I don’t have much to add to this. I’ll just say some of what I said when the grand jury failed to Darren Wilson for Michael Brown’s murder:


This is not acceptable. It is not acceptable that millions of people live in a police state, afraid for their safety and their lives on a daily basis, because their skin is black or brown.

I know there’s a limited amount I can do about this. But I can say this, as clearly as I can: I do not consent to this. No, no, no, no, no.

the word no

The comment policy on this post is the same as it was on my posts about Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin: I am not willing to host a debate about this on my blog. I am willing to host many debates on my blog, about many issues. I am often willing to make my blog into a place for people to express many ideas and opinions with which I passionately disagree. This is not one of those issues, and this is not one of those times. If you have anything at all to say about this that even remotely hints at implying that these murders were justified or that the police response has been reasonable and proportionate — do not comment in my blog. Now, or ever. Do not read my blog. Do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Do not attend my talks. Do not buy my books. Get the fuck out of my life, now. Thank you.

I Do Not Consent: The Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

4 thoughts on “I Do Not Consent: The Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

  1. 1

    These murders make me furious. Red-faced, fist-clenching *furious*. This society we live in, where every time this happens, the cop defenders chime in with “Well, we don’t know the full story, only the aftermath”, or “Just comply and everything will magically be all right”. They make me furious. Tears well up behind my eyes. What the fuck is wrong with society?

  2. 2

    I don’t understand, but have come to accept as a shitty reality, that there are a lot of white people who ignore black problems. Who tune out as soon as race becomes an issue. Whose take on all of this is that the people being killed by the police were thugs who disobeyed and had it coming. Who believe black people are just defending black criminals and don’t care about improving their communities, but only “blaming whitey.” I’ve read countless variations of all of this in the past 2 days and, disheartening as it is, I know I’m going to see it. What I have found curious is that when I point out the 275 white people also killed by police this year (a far lower rate based on our fraction of the population), they don’t give a shit about them either. So many people are completely ok with living in a society where, if you step out of line at all (or if a cop perceives you to step out of line at all, something that seems to happen much more frequently to black Americans), your life is forfeit. Should have complied. Should have followed the law. People are even making excuses for the Minneapolis cop, and I really wasn’t sure how they’d do that – but apparently Philando brought it on himself, should have been more cautious and submissive, shouldn’t have done anything that could have scared the cop. He’d be alive if he’d just kept his hands on the steering wheel and not reached for his wallet. Should have known better not to reach for something. I mean Jesus fuck… I am actually reading people saying these things. Defending the indefensible. And yeah, a huge part of it is racism. I see it as they talk about these “thugs” and go on and on about “black on black crime” as if that somehow has anything to do with the price of tea in China. But it also baffles me that it goes beyond racism to a sort of fascistic authoritarianism, assuming that if the cops hurt anybody it MUST have been their fault, and that we all should just know and accept that it’s our obligation to make sure we don’t ever do anything that might set a cop on edge, because “they have a dangerous job and we should be thankful for them.” Fuck it. People disgust me. So little concern for others lives. So many people – whole races, anybody who might have ever stepped out of line – just dehumanized in their minds.

  3. 3

    This not so subtle racism is primitive and begins in some of our homes early in life. Parents make derogatory remarks over the dinner table about black people now and then, and a boy grows up to hate all those of a darker skin color especially blacks. Then they learn to desire to become a policeman so they can carry a gun and kill young men who are most dangerous because they are black. That is part of a complex issue. It is tragic in our society. I like the bumper sticker that reads “Different is NOT another word for wrong.”

  4. 4

    I can’t help but remember your post about politicized tragedies and you are right, these tragedies are already political and the media is already telling us not to politicize these tragedies.

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