Election 2016

The Absence—and Presence—of Police at Alton Sterling’s Vigil

esquire.comBATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA—Car horns honk as they passed by the Triple S Food Mart. Chants from the growing crowds spilled into the hot Louisiana air: “No justice! no peace!” Flowers, both freshly picked and plastic, are placed on the makeshift memorial set up to honor Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was shot and killed here on Tuesday night by two white police officers.

Triple S owner Abdullah Muflahi was a few feet away from Sterling when police pinned him down and shot him six times. “It’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life, seeing my friend get shot,” Muflahi says quietly, standing precisely where the shooting took place. He remembers Sterling, a CD vendor who sold his wares on a white table set up outside of the store, as easygoing, always smiling, always full of jokes. He says that during the altercation, he did not see Sterling reach for the gun in his pocket, which he carried to protect himself after fellow vendors were mugged.

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