A group of about 35 people marched into Louisiana's Office of the Attorney General Monday afternoon calling for a special prosecutor to review the case against the two white Baton Rouge police officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling and to present those findings to a grand jury.
About a week after Attorney General Jeff Landry declined criminal charges against the two officers and just days since three graphic videos of the shooting were released, the demonstrators, led by the state's NAACP president Michael McClanahan, said they were fighting for true justice for Sterling, a 37-year-old black man. The protesters held signs that read: "Baton Rouge, comply or die. #AltonSterling."
"The attorney general should not substitute his own judgment for that of a grand jury," McClanahan said outside Landry’s office before he led the group inside. "We’re here to tell Jeff Landry … he has a duty to oversee that this process is transparent, and we want to hold him to it."
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Security guards for the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation stopped the demonstrators from entering the building beyond the lobby, prompting the group to sit down and eat their brown bag lunches next to the building's front doors.
McClanahan said the group will continue to come to the Attorney General's Office during their lunch hours until "our demands are met." He said he hopes the group will continue to grow, perhaps expanding their lunch fare to jambalaya, BBQ or crawfish.
"If you demand justice, meet us here for lunch," McClanahan said. "There has to be some accountability on the part of the state."
McClanahan said they want to sit down with Landry, and have requested such a meeting multiple times since the Sterling shooting in July 2016. The group tried again Monday to schedule a meeting with Landry.
Ruth Wisher, a spokeswoman for Landry, would not answer questions about whether Landry had received meeting requests from the NAACP, or if he would meet with them. She referred to the report he released last week when he announced his decision not to prosecute the two officers involved in the shooting of Sterling.
Rev. Dale Flowers, of New Sunlight Baptist Church, led the group in a prayer in the Attorney General's lobby before the group ate their lunches of sandwiches and chips.
"After viewing those tapes, I just don't think our Attorney General has done the job that he was elected to do," Flowers said.
The Baton Rouge Police Department released three videos Friday showing different perspectives of the 2016 shooting from start to finish, including the body camera footage from the two officers involved. Following the incident, two other cellphone videos that captured portions of the shooting were shared widely on social media. Their content sparked days-long protests in Baton Rouge and around the nation in July 2016.
Surveillance at Triple S Food Mart where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police in July 2016 shows, for the first time publi…
Landry announced last week that he would not pursue criminal charges against the officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, involved in the shooting.
Salamoni and Lake responded to a 911 call on July 5, 2016, about a man selling CDs outside a convenience store who had brandished his weapon at someone. Within seconds of Lake and Salamoni's arrival to the store, a struggle broke out between the officers and Sterling, which ended with Salamoni firing six shots into Sterling, killing him.
On Friday, Police Chief Murphy Paul fired Salamoni from the department after the officer spent almost two years on paid administrative leave. Lake was suspended for three days, Paul announced at a highly anticipated news conference.
After nearly two years of investigations and a public outcry over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy…
Tiffany Hinton, 34, joined the "lunch-in" Monday after viewing the newly released videos, saying not only was she upset for the Sterling family, but she was scared for her three sons.
"A life has been taken for no reason," Hinton said. "All we want is justice — equal justice. … (We're) not going to stop."
State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, a Democrat who represents the area where Sterling was shot, was the only elected official who joined the demonstrators. She said she was appalled by the videos and that Landry did not allow her, or community members, to listen to his press conference last Tuesday.
"This is not necessarily just about Alton Sterling. It’s about justice for all of us, all of the time," Marcelle said.