By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT — I’ve shown tremendous restraint over the past week on social media and my own blog in not writing about the protests and the inflamed rhetoric out there following the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge and the following ambush against law enforcement in Dallas. In fact, the only thing I posted on Facebook about it was that people need to stop sharing the media’s attempts to fan the flames and need to stop making it worse by posting hate filled memes and divisive commentary.
That won’t change here.
I will say this. I am broken-hearted by all of it. I live in Louisiana and I live three hours from Dallas. This is close to home.
I have watched protests online via The Advocate and other Baton Rouge and NOLA news outlets. The protests are tragic enough but the commentary by people watching is worse. I’m as far from a Kumbaya-singing-hand-holding-liberal as a person can get, but we are all human beings! Stop acting like this! There are good and bad eggs in every single racial group and to stereotype any one group is just wrong. Stop it.
Now, what I find curious this morning is this report from WAFB out of Baton Rouge about the arrests yesterday during protests:
According to the EBR Parish Prison booking sheet, all but seven of those arrested were from outside of the Baton Rouge area. An additional four are from cities directly neighboring Baton Rouge. The majority are from New Orleans. The rest are from Minnesota, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, New York, Washington D.C. and other cities from around Louisiana.
About a dozen of those on the posted list are out of the area. Are they here for legitimate reasons and just caught up in the moment? Maybe. Are they bussed in by people with nefarious reasons? Maybe. If it’s the latter, shame on you. And shame on those who sent you here.
From the protests I’ve watched, the Baton Rouge police have displayed extreme professionalism and restraint. The police have had the main goal of keeping the roadways open and keeping these people from getting run over or obstructing traffic. In return they’ve been hit with apples, eggs, water bottles, and rocks.
I watched a Periscope feed last night of a young woman who was among the protestors and inciting them to “get in the road! Get in the road! That’s why we’re here!” That’s not a protest for Alton Sterling. That’s not protest against perceived injustices by law enforcement. That’s inciting a riot if you ask me. She did indeed go into the road and got a few to go with her, but quickly ran back into the crowd when the police moved back into position across the street from them.
It’s a sad thing to watch for Louisiana. It depresses me. This is not who we are.
It’s my true wish that outside agitators would leave us alone and let us work this out together. We don’t need the professional race baiters or the BLM agitators down here.
Go out today and to something nice for someone. Smile at the person you pass on the sidewalk, thank an officer for what he does, pay it forward somewhere. Wherever you live – let’s not let those who want to divide us succeed. They are powerful but we are stronger.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.