Racial tensions in the U.S. are on the rise in the wake of another deadly attack on police officers Sunday. A 29-year-old former Marine, Gavin Long, drove from his home in Kansas City, Missouri, to kill police officers on what was his 29th birthday. Long, using an AR-15 assault rifle, ambushed and shot six Baton Rouge police officers, authorities there said. Three of the officers shot were killed in the attack, and Long was killed in a shootout with police. Baton Rouge was the site of a recent killing of Alton Sterling, one of multiple deadly police shootings, video of which ended up on social media, that have set off racially-charged protests nationwide.
One of the officers killed Sunday was 32-year-old Montrell Jackson, a 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge police force. Jackson, who was married with a 4-month-old son, just about a week before his death wrote an impassioned plea on Facebook about the state of policing in Baton Rouge amid all of the tensions boiling over around the country. “I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me,” he wrote in that now fateful post.
On Sunday, his sister, Joycelyn Jackson of Lake Charles, Louisiana, spoke out about the tragedy. She learned the news of her brother’s death while she was in church. “I didn’t want to break down in church but it was just something I couldn’t hold,” Jackson, 49, told The Washington Post. “He was a wonderful person. A wonderful person.” Musing on the state of race relations in the U.S. and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement, Jackson said, “It’s coming to the point where no lives matter, whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”
Jackson wasn’t the only grieving woman in the area to speak out to the media following the deadly shooting on Sunday. Veda Washington-Abusaleh, the aunt of Alton Sterling, whose killing by police was caught on video, shared on social media and reignited the uproar over race and policing in America, spoke to a local TV news station in an emotional interview.
“We don’t call for no bloodshed!” Washington-Abusaleh said. “That’s how this all started. We don’t want no more bloodshed,” she said, fighting back tears. On the wall of the building behind her was a mural of her nephew. She continued, seemingly referencing the fact that an out-of-towner had traveled to Baton Rouge to make a violent political statement. “This is our house. You can’t come in our house killing us! That’s what you’re doing because at the end of the day, when these people call their families, they tell them that their daddy and there momma’s not coming home no more,” she said, crying. “No justice, no peace!” Watch her full remarks in the video below.