One of three police officers gunned down Sunday in Baton Rouge, La., wrote about the struggles he faced as an officer and a black man three days after Alton Sterling was fatally shot during a police encounter in the same city.
Three officers – Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola - were gunned down by 29-year-old Gavin Eugene Long, a former Marine, who later died in a shootout with police.
Alton Sterling’s death followed by the death of a Minnesota man, Philando Castile, during a traffic stop days later led to national outrage and protests across the country.
In an emotional Facebook post on July 8, Officer Montrell Jackson wrote: “I’m tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments but hey what’s in your heart is in your heart. I still love you all because hate takes too much energy but I definitely won’t be looking at you the same.”
He thanked people who reached out to him and his wife in the wake of Sterling’s death and then talked about the “hateful looks” he got from people while in his police uniform and how when he’s not in uniform, some consider him “a threat.”
“I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” Jackson wrote.
“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. When people you know begin to question your integrity you realize they don’t really know you at all. Look at my actions they speak LOUD and CLEAR,” he added.
“Finally I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in these streets, so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer. I got you,” Jackson concluded.
Jackson’s sister, Joycelyn Jackson, told the Washington Post that while she understands the anger behind those in the Black Lives Matter movement, “God gives nobody the right to kill and take another person’s life.”
“It’s coming to the point where no lives matter,” she said, “whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”
Meanwhile, in a speech to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives 40th Annual Conference, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch paid tribute to Jackson and his colleagues and called attention to Jackson’s Facebook post as well.
“After the murders of five officers in Dallas two weeks ago, one dedicated black officer, Officer Montrell Jackson of Louisiana, gave voice to the dichotomy often imposed upon us when he wrote, ‘In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks – and out of uniform, some consider me a threat.’ And yet even still, he urged all Americans – of every background and circumstance, every color and creed – ‘Please don’t let hate infect your heart,’” she said.
Lynch said to honor Jackson’s “service and mourn his loss – and the loss of his friends and colleagues, and of too many others who have been taken from us – we must not let hatred infect our hearts.”