Toronto rapper Drake has published a powerful statement mourning the death of Alton Sterling and expressing deep concern about the strained relationship between communities of color and police in the United States.
“I am grateful to be able to call America my second home,” Drake wrote in an open letter shared on Instagram Wednesday. “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.”
Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was fatally shot by police outside a Louisiana convenience store early Tuesday. In an encounter that was partially captured on video, he was confronted by two white officers responding to a call about an armed man. Sterling was pinned to the ground in an altercation and shot multiple times in the chest and back.
The shooting sparked protests that have drawn national attention, and the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation.
In his letter, Drake continued, “It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.”
Drake added that he is “concerned for the safety of my family, my friends, and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern.” But, he said, “I believe things can change for the better. Open and honest dialogue is the first step.”
Several other celebrities have also spoken out about Sterling’s death, including Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, who expressed outrage over the shooting on Twitter, and actress and writer Issa Rae, who created a scholarship fund for Sterling’s children.
Read Drake’s full letter: