BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – The steady crowd of protestors and supporters swelled to thousands Wednesday evening during a vigil held in front of the scene where a Baton Rouge man was shot to death.
Speaking feet from where 37-year-old Alton Sterling died, the woman who raised him captured every emotion running through the crowd with her plea.
“I’m angry and I’m mad because they took something from me that I will never ever get back,” Sandra Sterling said. “So y’all pray for me, but we’ve got to have peace and unity out here.”
Packed shoulder to shoulder, the people in the crowd came to mourn and to support. One man painted a mural of Sterling above a growing memorial outside the store. By the streets, protestors held up signs that brought a steady stream of honking horns and cheers from drivers.
“Everybody is out here for a purpose and a reason. We just want to maintain and make sure justice is done,” supporter Fred Dyson said.
As the vigil began, organizers applauded the crowd for remaining peaceful.
“Some people said we couldn’t come out here without burning our own buildings, without flipping over cars, but this is not Ferguson. This is Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” State Rep. Denise Marcelle said to cheers.
The speakers included pastors, city leaders, and community activists. Their speeches revealed that while Sterling’s death sparked anger, it sparked something else too – a call for solidarity and reform.
“I see your signs and I love them, black lives matter, it will never matter until it matters to black people first. Start loving yourselves,” activist Silky Slim said.
The vigil ended with balloons being released.
EMS was called out to deal with several people who were overwhelmed by the heat.