One year ago, Abdullah Muflahi rushed outside his convenience store in Baton Rouge and began recording just before a white police officer shot and killed a black man in the parking lot. Muflahi’s video went on to fuel protests that turned his friend, 37-year-old Alton Sterling, into another symbol of outrage over deadly police shootings, the Associated Press reports. The July 5 shooting made Muflahi’s store a hub for protesters. Visitors at the Triple S Food Mart photograph a mural of Sterling’s smiling face on its aluminum siding. A makeshift memorial stands on the table where Sterling once sold homemade CDs. Little has changed in the poverty-stricken neighborhood, a frustrating fact of life for residents and business owners who hoped a national spotlight could erode racial divisions and improve police relations in Louisiana’s capital.
“It’s overlooked. It’s not much that the city does around here,” Muflahi said. “There are things that the city could fix and help make it better, but nobody looks at it like that.” Muflahi, a 29-year-old native of Yemen, mourns Sterling as the friend who welcomed him after he moved from Detroit and bought his store in 2010. Last year, officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake approached Sterling about a call that a black man selling CDs had threatened someone with a gun. Salamoni shot Sterling three times after Sterling reached for a gun in his pocket, and fired three more shots into Sterling’s back when he began to sit up. A loaded revolver was recovered from Sterling’s pocket. The Justice Department declined to charge either officer. Louisiana’s attorney general is reviewing whether state charges are warranted. State Rep. Ted James sees some progress in the area. He also sees enduring racial divisions and acknowledges that predominantly black north Baton Rouge suffers from a longstanding “lack of investment.”