Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed by two white police officers who had pinned him down outside of a convenience store on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The deadly encounter was captured in a cellphone video that shocked the nation and spurred protests across the country. The next day, Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. His death was captured in a Facebook live video.
Their deaths prompted demonstrations across the nation, including a protest organized by Black Lives Matter in Dallas, Texas, where 12 police officers were shot and five were killed by a gunman perched atop a parking garage. The gunman, who was shot and killed by officers after hours of negotiations, said that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
Several days later, a 29-year-old gunman ambushed and killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after penning a three-page-long suicide note explaining that he intended to kill “bad cops as well as good cops,” and police officers who were “black or white … as long as they had a badge.”
Today, the widows of two Baton Rouge police officers who were slain in the aftermath of Sterling’s death will meet and have a sit-down- conversation with Andricka Williams, the mother of three of Alton Sterling’s children in Dallas, Texas.
The conversation between Williams and Tonja Garafola, the widow of East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola, and Trenisha Jackson, the widow of Baton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson, is part of a larger event organized by the Urban Specialists to mark what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 89th birthday.
Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of the civil rights leader who was slain 50 years ago, will also attend the event, as well as Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.
The reconciliation will be moderated by Pastor Omar Jahwar, who told the Federalist he’s hoping this event will trigger a nationwide source correction and change the way we talk about race and police brutality.
“People get overwhelmed by senseless violence and think they can’t fix it, but they can reconcile and heal and forgive,” Jahwar said. “What they think is they’re the only ones dealing with it, when you see others who are fighting through it, it gives you certain assurance that you’re not alone. That gives you strength to keep fighting.”
Watch the conversation live here.