Alton Sterling's Son Cries at Mom's Press Conference
Why We Need to Watch Alton Sterling's Son Break Down in Tears
Police shot and killed two black men in two different cities within 48 hours, and shocking, disturbing footage of both incidents has been captured on cell phone video and dispersed around the globe, on social media and via news agencies.
I watched them. You probably watched them, too. You know who else did? A 15-year-old boy named Cameron.
Cameron isn't just any young teen. He is the son of Alton Sterling, the 37-year-old man who was shot to death by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA, on Tuesday.
He too watched the videos that showed two police officers slam his father to the ground. He too heard the shots fired, at close range. He saw his dad bleed out, a gaping wound in the middle of his chest.
And as profoundly devastating as that video was, I wish, for this boy's sake, it never existed. I know it will be used in investigations that will hopefully shed light and provide understanding . . . not least of all, justice. But I don't believe it's one any of us "needs" to bear witness to in order to know what happened.
There's another video to serve that purpose.
It's the one of Cameron and his mother, Quinyetta McMillan, standing in front of microphones at a press conference. It's the one in which young Cameron first wraps his arm around his mom's shoulder. He appears strong, resolute, adult. But as his mom speaks — mentioning that Cameron is the oldest among his siblings, noting that her child had to watch the events unfold "as this was put all over the outlets" — his steadfast demeanor evaporated, and the little boy who lost his father, who lost any semblance of innocence he had left from his cut-short childhood, revealed himself.
He began to cry. He tried to hide the tears in his striped shirt. In seconds, he lost control. Those around him held him up as he screamed out for his "daddy."
Meanwhile, his mom did her best to carry on:
"As a mother, I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father. That, I can't take away from him. He is at an age of understanding. I hurt more for him and his loss. As a parent, one of the greatest fears is to see your child hurt and know there's nothing you can do about it."
She said that, through pained breaths, as her son nearly lost his footing from his sobs.
Please, watch this video. Watch it as many times as you can bear it. And remember that, on the day a black man was killed by a white cop, on the day another senseless death became cause for political posturing, on that same day, remember that a son lost his father.