Trucker Being Blamed for Alton Sterling’s Death Shows Just How Ugly Our Social Media Culture Can Get

On Tuesday evening in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, Alton Sterling was killed outside a food mart in a struggle with police. According to a 911 call, Sterling was armed with a gun and pointed it at a bystander.

After tazing him, the officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, shot and killed Sterling. They said their use of deadly force was justified because Sterling was armed with a gun.

Sterling’s death has generated a massive outcry — and even various celebrities have voiced their outrage. Katy Perry tweeted about it:

So did Kanye West:

https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/750850397187608576

But one celebrity really kicked the hornet’s nest by accusing the wrong person of killing Alton Sterling. The celebrity, Meek Mill, is a best-selling rap artist.

He posted to Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHj0xNsBBW3/?taken-by=meekmill

But the person in the picture is not one of the officers involved in the shooting of Alton Sterling. He is a trucker named Robert J. Kinnison, and he’s from Michigan.

And while Meek Mill just recently jumped in on this false narrative, Kinnison has been receiving thousands of hate-filled messages and death threats over the last 36 hours.

https://twitter.com/Robertkinnison3/status/750592912401006592

Kinnison told Independent Journal Review he thinks the lie was started by someone on Twitter who’d gotten in a disagreement with him for being a Donald Trump supporter.

Yet, it isn’t clear how his name spread so rapidly.

https://twitter.com/YungTwoCan/status/750769033142829060

https://twitter.com/dornsp/status/750540832453828608

We talked to Kinnison about the extremely disturbing responses he’s received after being falsely accused of killing Sterling. He said:

“They call me cracker and honkey. And threaten to kill my family. They said they would track me and find where I am and kill me. A lot of the threats are just ‘I’ll find you and shoot you’ type stuff.

I don’t like it. I think the celebrity needs to do their research. Because it’s obviously affecting me in personal way. I’ve got a few thousand messages on Facebook and Twitter in just the last 36 hours.”

He shared screenshots of some of the messages:

Twitter message
Image Credit: Robert Kinnison/Independent Journal Review

8109416a-4a14-4948-af8b-130a86784a1c

Image Credit: Robert Kinnison/Independent Journal Review

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Image Credit: Robert Kinnison/Independent Journal Review

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Image Credit: Robert Kinnison/Independent Journal Review

To be clear, the officers involved in the shooting death of Sterling are Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II. Both Salamoni and Lake II are currently on paid administrative leave.

What do you think?

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