There are rumors that fairly soon the decision will come down from the Louisiana Department of Justice whether to pursue any charges against Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake, the Baton Rouge Police Department officers involved in the July 3, 2016 shooting death of Alton Sterling following a struggle outside of a North Baton Rouge convenience store.
The state’s Attorney General Jeff Landry hasn’t given a time frame for when the decision will be announced, but most people think it’s coming at some point in the near future. That the rumor mill has generated a few false alarms in the past with respect to an announcement makes this unsurprising; at some point Landry is going to get this over with. Last week there was a report, moreover, that the LDOJ had held a meeting with local law enforcement on Friday to discuss preparations for the announcement when it does come down.
With that as context, last night the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP decided they’d stage a press conference and make a bunch of demands – among which was a dead giveaway that they don’t believe any charges will be made against Salamoni and Lake. WAFB-TV had a report from the dog and pony show put on by the NAACP’s Mike McClanahan…
If you’ll notice, the demand wasn’t that Salamoni and Lake be charged, it was that they be fired – which isn’t up to the Attorney General’s office. McClanahan also wants the surveillance film of the incident released, which isn’t all that unreasonable and will likely be done when Landry wraps up his investigation and makes his announcement.
But the quote about getting up off couches and taking action is somewhat perplexing. What kind of action? More marching in the streets? To what end? No one really believes Salamoni and Lake are going to be deployed back into that neighborhood, right? They’re already suspended and they’re already marked men in the community. What else does McClanahan want people off their couches taking action for?
He can’t be trying to gin up riots if Landry’s office doesn’t produce charges, can he? That wouldn’t be overly prudent – nobody will actually support such activity two years on from the actual incident, and especially not after domestic terrorist Gavin Long gunned down several Baton Rouge law enforcement officers in a sick retaliation for the Sterling incident.
And of course Gary Chambers and Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed were there. Reed actually made it to the podium in front of City Hall early to demand that Salamoni and Lake be charged with murder and threatened to turn Baton Rouge into Ferguson or Baltimore if that doesn’t happen – which is pretty big talk two years on.
One gets the strong impression that a lot of these people are desperate for relevance, and that the Sterling bandwagon is getting more than a little wobbly, to their great chagrin. The city has moved on and has other problems to deal with, which is bad for their business.
Soon Landry will make his announcement, and there will be one more dustup over Sterling’s death. It will be minor. And then Reed, McClanahan and Chambers will have to find a new source of political relevance.