A week of Black Lives Matter protests in the West

After last week’s police shootings, Americans use social media to call for police reform and racial justice.


Last week, two black men – Alton Sterling and Philando Castile – were fatally shot by white police officers, their names added to a growing list of black Americans who have died at the hands of police. Like several before them, their deaths were caught on video and broadcast on the Internet. Then at a peaceful protest in Dallas later in the week, a sniper shot and killed five police officers and injured seven more.

Although the recent events didn't take place in the West and the region has remained at the fringe of the national conversation, Western communities, both urban and rural, have struggled to address policing that disproportionately impacts non-white communities, and deaths at the hands of police. In the two decades since Rodney King was beaten by police, sparking riots in Los Angeles, there have been dozens of instances of black and Native Americans dying during interactions with law enforcement. For instance, in 2009, Oscar Grant was fatally shot by a police officer at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California. And within the last decade, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Phoenix law enforcement faced investigations for their harsh policing tactics.

So, the West, too, grapples with police reform and racial justice. That was made even clearer in the last two weeks, when people in cities across the region protested and rallied for racial justice.