Lafayette police shooting: Families, marchers protest in Baton Rouge seeking justice
BATON ROUGE - More than 100 protesters responding to “Say his name” with chants of “Which one?” marched in the streets of the state capital, demanding change after the deaths of Trayford Pellerin in Lafayette and others across Louisiana.
Four families, who’ve all lost loved ones at the hands of Louisiana police officers, marched Friday evening alongside leaders of civil rights organizations, first to the state Capitol building and then to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office.
One of the families represented in the march came for Pellerin, a 31-year-old Black man shot and killed by Lafayette police on Aug. 21.
Demonstrators gathered at the steps of the Capitol near downtown Baton Rouge, hoping to enter it as part of their peaceful protest. However, they were turned away at the door. The organizers were told the building closed at 3:30 p.m., a few minutes before they arrived.
The protesters continued their march.
“They tried to act like we were an angry mob trying to storm the doors,” Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party said. “That’s not what we are. We are not an angry mob, are we?”
From the Capitol, the protesters marched ten minutes to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office.
There the families and lawyers representing Keeven Robinson from Jefferson, Alton Sterling from Baton Rouge, Armond Jairon Chauncey Brown from Kenner and Pellerin entered the building to file their complaint demanding an investigation into Pellerin's death.
Pellerin died after multiple Lafayette police officers fired at least 17 shots, hitting him 10 times at close range as he was reaching for the door of a gas station in north Lafayette. The officers were responding to a disturbance call about a man carrying a knife, and police said Pellerin had a knife.
As protesters continued their march Friday to the Governor’s Mansion, they were met by counter-protesters.
A small group of the Louisiana Cajun Militia were armed and dressed in bullet proof vests. They stood with large dogs beside them, across from the protesters. One armed man pointed his gun directly into the crowd. Protesters were instructed by the New Black Panther Party to not engage and stick together.
The protest remained peaceful.
While the families and lawyers were inside the Attorney General’s office, protesters continued to chant “black power” outside of the building to show their support.
After successfully filing their complaints, the organizers and families told the crowd of their pain and suffering since their loved ones have died at the hands of law enforcement officers in Louisiana
Sarah Robinson, the grandmother of Keeven Robinson from New Orleans, spoke about the death of her grandson.
“We’re not giving up. We are going to keep fighting until we get justice,” Robinson said. She asked marchers to protest alongside her in Jefferson Parish.
Keeven Robinson, 22, was killed as Jefferson Parish Sheriff's narcotics officers choked him during a confrontation in 2018. The officers involved were not prosecuted.
Neither were the Baton Rouge officers in the Alton Sterling shooting. Sterling, 37, was shot and killed at close range by two Baton Rouge police officers in 2016 while he was selling CDs outside of a gas station.
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His aunt, Vita Sterling spoke about how her family has to relive his death every time they turn on the news and see another shooting.
“That’s how I feel inside, from my belly,” Sterling said. “I’m so tired of this. We are fasting. We are on a fast so we can have some peace inside.”
Pastor Jackie Brown-Cockerham, from Kenner, Armond Jairon Chauncey Brown’s aunt, said the city of Kenner has not responded to her. She’s asked the mayor and chief of police for a conversation several times.
She became emotional when speaking about how her nephew died. She recalls he was only 99 lbs.
Brown, 22, who struggled with mental illness, was shot and killed by Kenner police officers outside of his father's home, following a four-hour standoff in 2017.
“I’m tired of it. Every time I see this replayed on the news, it hurts,” Brown said. “There is nothing more that I can do but to scream out onto the lord, for justice to all of these young people.”
Brown-Cockerham recalled the shooting of Trayvon Martin and didn’t fully understand the sadness of what happened until it happened to her family.
“We have to do something, because it hurts,” Brown-Cockerham said. “We died inside. It hurts and the pain hasn’t gone away and it probably never will.”