Taking to Instagram today, Drake has written an open letter in response to the death of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was shot multiple times and killed by two white Baton Rouge police officers on Tuesday despite being restrained and immobile at the time.
Moved and frightened by footage of the shooting, the Canadian born and US based rapper felt he had to say something about the killing and the ongoing strain between communities of colour and police officers.
“It left me feeling disheartened, emotional and truly scared,” he wrote.
“I woke up this morning with a strong need to say something,” he continued, adding that “it’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago.”
With the video going viral, and many other public figures coming out to denounce the killing, Sterling’s name has itself has become a trending hashtag across social media, with Drake noting the transformation from person to hashtag becoming more and more common.
“No one begins their life as a hashtag, yet the trend of being reduced to one continues,” he wrote.
Going on to address his concern for well-being of his loved ones and “any human being that could fall victim to this pattern,” the rapper gave his heartfelt condolences to the Sterling family and anyone else who has “lost someone to this cycle of violence.”
The Baton Rouge police officers shot Sterling outside a Louisiana convenience store where he sold homemade CDs. Confronted by the officers after an anonymous caller alleged someone matching Sterling’s description had threatened him with a gun outside the store.
Video from the scene appears to show Sterling being held down and then shot several times. The camera moves away from the confrontation briefly, then refocusses back on one of the officers who is seen removing an object from Sterling’s pocket as he lies on the ground, blood covering his chest.
The footage of the shooting understandably sparked outrage across the US, with protestors marching in Baton Rouge on Tuesday and Wednesday and the U.S. Justice Department launching a civil rights investigation and the officers being put on administrative leave as per Baton Rouge police policy.
You can read the full open letter here.