NAACP holds rally at city hall in wake of Alton Sterling shooting

NAACP holds rally at city hall in wake of Alton Sterling shooting

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Calls for change echoed across the grounds of Baton Rouge City Hall Friday at a NAACP rally related to the Alton Sterling shooting.

"Wake up to our discontent, wake up to our pain, wake up to our trauma, wake up to our hurt, wake up to the fact that our people deserve respect," said Cornell William Brooks, the national president of the NAACP who flew in from Washington, D.C.

More than 72 hours after the shooting, the frustration and heartbreak was still evident on the faces of leaders and community members alike. Some held signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "No Justice, No Peace."

"You wouldn't put an animal down the way they handled that young man. He did not deserve that, he had five kids," said one speaker.

The rally took place just days after the shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling at the hands of two Baton Rouge police officers.

"In the last century, we had to worry about lynch ropes. In this century, we have to worry about badges and guns," Brooks said.

Brooks called for modifications to training for police officers and for the increased use of body cameras, all in hopes of preventing what happened Tuesday morning from ever happening again.

"Behind every hashtag is a human being, behind every hashtag is a family, behind every hashtag is a community. We are tired of hashtags," Brooks said. "We want to be treated not as hashtags, we want to be treated as human beings deserving of respect. What do we do to prevent the next hashtag? The next tragedy?"

Parish leaders echoed those calls for change.

"We know there are problems in our police department, they've been there for a long time. It's going to take local, it's going to take state, it's going to take the community for all of us to say enough is enough no more," said East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

Some went a step further, telling community members to be critical not just only of law enforcement but also of themselves.

"We have to stand up. I want you to stand up when we're murdering each other. Because black lives will never matter when they don't matter to black people first. If it don't matter to you, it shouldn't matter to anyone else," said Silky Slim, a non-violence activist.

After the rally, the NAACP head visited the Triple S convenience store, which is the scene of Tuesday's shooting.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.