It all started on July 5, one day removed from celebrating our country's independence. In what's becoming an all too common occurrence in America, a black man was shot and killed by police officers. The man's name was Alton Sterling. He was selling CDs outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The shooting was caught on camera, and like many other violent shootings captured on a phone's lens, it rippled through the internet in the form of Facebook shares, retweets and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
According to CNN, Sterling was selling CDs when a homeless man approached him, asking for money. Sterling flashed him his gun and told the homeless man to leave him alone. That's when the homeless man called the police, who arrived on the scene and proceeded to tackle Sterling to the ground before taking his life.
Memorials, vigils and peaceful protests popped up all over the country for Sterling, with people from all walks of life offering support and sympathy for Sterling's family. Unfortunately, it will never fill the void that's left in his family's hearts. "I'm not angry enough to hurt nobody. I'm not angry enough to go in the street. I'm not angry enough to curse the police out," said Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt, during a protest outside of the convenience store where he was killed. "But I'm angry and I'm mad because they took something from me that I'm never, ever gonna get back ... So y'all pray for me."
America mourned the loss, hoping for a reprieve from this type of senseless violence. Then Wednesday came.
On Wednesday, July 6, Philando Castile was pulled over by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for having a broken tail light. He'd never get a chance to fix it, as the officer shot Castile four times.
Diamond Reynolds, Castile's fiance, live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. "He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm," Reynolds can be heard saying in the video.
Their four-year-old daughter was in the backseat.
"I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off it," the officer explains. Castile had a permit to carry a firearm.
On Thursday, July 7, a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas turned violent when a sniper fired from an elevated position, sending people scrambling for their lives. Five police were killed, and several other police and citizens were injured.
Suspect Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old who had served in the Army reserve, was killed in a standoff with police after a bomb-squad robot set off a device near the suspect.
"He said he was upset about the recent police shootings," said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. "The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers."
With a country already divided over issues of violence and race, this week's shootings have only made that divide greater."We're hurting. Our profession is hurting. There are no words to describe the atrocity that happened in our city," said Brown. "All I know is that this must stop -- this divisiveness between our police and our citizens."