Cops or Collection Agents? In Many Poor Communities, Police Seeking Fines End Up Firing Shots

Many black citizens who have died at the hands of police are targeted for relatively minor offenses.

The past three days have been brutal for any peace-loving citizen in the United States. After video emerged Wednesday of police tackling and then killing 37-year-old Alton Sterling—a black man whose crime was selling bootleg CDs outside of a Baton Rouge convenience store—the Justice Department opened a criminal probe into the officer who shot the father of five a total of four times.

The following day in Minnesota, Diamond Reynolds posted to Facebook a haunting livestream of her boyfriend, 32-year-old Philando Castile, dying in the driver’s seat of his car after he was pulled over for a broken taillight and shot by police. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton called for the Justice Department to likewise investigate the shooting.

Both incidents sent shockwaves throughout the country; in dozens of cities peaceful protests erupted with demonstrators calling for the cops who gunned these men down to be brought to justice. And President Barack Obama, in an emotional speech, made it clear that “these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents.”

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