The tragic death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has shaken a community and become news nationwide. Millions around the world are looking for answers as to what happened in the altercation, and many are horrified by the videos that have surfaced. People have been coming forward demanding accountability. One of those people is Michael McClanahan, who is the President of Baton Rouge’s NAACP chapter. He has been with the family and in the media in the hopes of justice.
Here’s what you need to know about him.
1. He and the NAACP Are Calling For the Resignation of Baton Rouge’s Police Chief and Chief Executive
The biggest thing McClanahan has been discussing the past couple of days is that the NAACP wants the resignation of Baton Rouge’s police chief and chief executive. He has said to reporters, “This incident is only one incident in many… What we’re going to do is root out the 1% of bad police officers that go around being the judge, the jury and execution of innocent people, period, but more specifically, innocent black lives.” McClanahan said that this resignation demand went even beyond just the Sterling case, calling the issue “the culture of the Baton Rouge Police Department.”
Carl Dabadie, acting police chief of the department, has gone on record saying he has no plans to resign, and said those like McClanahan who are calling for it are “acting off of emotion.” During a press conference, Dabadie said, “At this point, like you, I am demanding answers. Like you, all my prayers are with this community and especially the family and loved ones of Mr. Sterling.” He has also insisted that the investigation will be thorough and transparent.
2. He Was at the Family’s Press Conference Following the Shooting
Sterling’s family held a press conference this morning to address Alton’s shooting. McClanahan was there as well, opening the press conference and explaining why they were there:
This press conference is to start letting the community know what’s been going on, to let the community know that we are silently, that we are gonna root out all the causes of evil, and that this is the last time an innocent entrepreneur will be killed unlawfully by anyone in this city.
He introduced Edmond Jordan, the family’s attorney, who said he was thankful for modern cell phones, without which people might not have found out about the shooting.
3. McClanahan Also Works With a Group Called The Sharp Group
McClanahan is the acting President of Baton Rouge NAACP, but according to his LinkedIn he is also a Managing Partner with The Sharp Group. The Sharp Group, according to their LinkedIn page, was formed in 1996, is a “Prince Edward Island based strategic planning & marketing agency… known for innovative strategy and creative brand development. Their specialties include marketing and advertising.
4. Controversy Over the Sterling Death Grew Significantly After Video of the Shooting Surfaced
Warning: the above video is graphic. Watch at your discretion.
Like many other shootings, what made the Alton Sterling case such large news was the emergence of a witness’s video. Activists like Shaun King soon posted a witness’s video of Sterling’s confrontation with Baton Rouge officers. The video spread and anger in activist communities got much, much louder.
According to local news, police claimed that they were at Triple S Food Mart about someone selling CDs and carrying a gun. Officials also said that an altercation took place that led to the shooting. The owner of Triple S Food Mart, Abdul Muflahi, claimed to have seen the shooting take place. He says Sterling’s hands were not near a gun, and that “His hand was nowhere (near) his pocket,” which is where officers retrieved Sterling’s gun. Louisiana is an open carry state.
5. The Two Officers Involved in the Shooting Were Placed on Paid Administrative Leave
Once protests began and videos surfaced, people began demanding names of the officers who were involved. Names were eventually released. The officers were Blane Salamoni, a 4 year veteran of Baton Rouge’s force, and Howie Lake II, a 3 year veteran. Each of them have been placed on paid administrative leave.