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Baton Rouge Remembers Police Shooting Victim

  • VOA News

Veda Sterling, aunt of Alton Sterling, hugs a visitor at Alton's burial at the Mount Pilgrim Benevolent Society Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 15, 2016.

Veda Sterling, aunt of Alton Sterling, hugs a visitor at Alton's burial at the Mount Pilgrim Benevolent Society Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 15, 2016.

Mourners gathered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to memorialize Alton Sterling, a black man who was fatally shot last week by police officers.

Family and friends of Sterling as well as high profile activists, including civil rights leaders Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton attended the service Friday at Southern University, a historically black college.

Sharpton called for justice in Sterling's death, "Wrong must be corrected and the wrong must be held accountable."

Jackson said "Our strongest weapon is not guns and violence, it is the rightness of our cause." He added "There's power in innocent blood. If the killing of Alton Sterling had been in a shootout or drug bust or robbery, we would not be here today."

Sterling was shot by police on July 5 as he sold CDs outside a convenience store. The shooting was recorded on a cell phone and widely circulated on social media.

A demonstrator stands during protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2016.

A demonstrator stands during protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2016.

Sterling's death, along with another fatal police shooting of a black man last week in Minnesota, sparked protests over law enforcement's treatment of minorities. It was at one of those protests that a black sniper shot and killed five white police officers in Dallas, further heightening tensions.

Louisiana's Governor, Jon Bel Edwards, has turned over the investigation of Sterling's shooting to federal authorities, led by the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division. "I have very serious concerns," Edwards said when making the announcement. "The video is disturbing, to say the least."

The video showed two officers initially confronting Sterling before tackling him and pinning him to the ground. They wrestled with Sterling for several seconds before someone yelled "He's got a gun." Both officers pulled their weapons and pointed them into Sterling's chest, with one saying "If you f****** move I swear to God," before firing several shots.

Officials say police went to the convenience store after an anonymous caller said they had been threatened by someone with a gun.

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