BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The atmosphere during a community rally at the Triple S Food Mart where 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot last July was one of calmness and anxiety.
As the community awaits the U.S. Department of Justice findings on whether the officers involved will face any federal criminal charges, rumors continue to swirl that a decision will be released any day now.
"We really wanna know, it's been too long. It shouldn't have taken this long for a decision," Sterling's aunt, Sandra Sterling, said.
In an effort to be proactive, State Representative C. Denise Marcelle and dozens of community activists, including the 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge and the Nation of Islam, are urging nonviolence in the days following the outcome, whatever it may be.
"We are asking to be respectful to law enforcement at the end of the day. I'm not stopping you from protesting. It ain't what you do, it's how you do it. Let's do everything in decency and in order," Keon Preston, President of Stop the Violence, said.
"I stressed nonviolence when it happened in July, I will continue to stress nonviolence. If they want to protest, there is a way to protest," Rep. Marcelle said.
Rep. Marcelle says the process of making a unified outcry can be structured, without resulting in chaos and destruction.
"Don't let the emotions and frustrations erupt to the point that they start committing crimes," says Preston.
Community leaders, like AV Mitchell, urge the public to "be productive" and "think for yourself," strongly encouraging smart decision making and not allowing what they call "out of town agitators," to unnecessarily stir the already boiling pot.
"We have to keep in mind that unity is the key to all things. What happens at this store, no agrees too, no one agrees with it. However, let the correct people do their investigation like they're supposed to and let's just see where it goes from there," says Preston.