Drake posted the message on his Instagram account on Wednesday (July 6, 2016) that expressed his feelings after he watched the video of Sterling’s shooting, which was filmed on cell phones by Abdullah Muflahi and Black Lives Matter activist Arthur Reed, and then circulated online.
“I am grateful to be able to call America my second home,” began the Toronto native. “Last night when I saw the video of Alton Sterling being killed it left me feeling disheartened, emotional, and truly scared. I woke up this morning with a strong need to say something.”
Drake says that it’s “impossible to ignore” that relationship between “black and brown communities” and law enforcement is still as strained as it was decades ago.
“No one begins their life as a hashtag,” says the artist, commenting on how Sterling’s name became an eponymous hashtag on social media after his death. “Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.”
“This is real and I’m concerned. Concerned for the safety of my family, my friends, and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern. I do not know the answer. But I believe things can change for the better. Open and honest dialogue is the first step.”
Drake concludes his note by issuing his thoughts and prayers to the family of Sterling and those who have lost a loved one to “this cycle of violence.”
Sterling was shot several times outside of a Louisiana convenience store where he sold music and movies on CDs. He was confronted by police officers after an anonymous caller reported that they were being threatened by someone with a gun outside of the store. The cell phone footage shows one of the police officers tackling Sterling to the ground, and then both pinning him to the pavement. Someone yelled, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” and an officer pulled a gun from his holster. Soon after, the sound of a gunshot was heard followed by two more.
According to the AP, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said that Sterling was armed at the time of his death on Tuesday. The investigation is ongoing.
Read the full report on Sterling’s death here and read Drake’s letter below.