Slain Baton Rouge officer: 'I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me'
Days before he was killed by a gunman, Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson wrote an emotional post on Facebook expressing the difficulty of being a black police officer in an era of racially charged police shootings.
As the family and friends of Montrell Jackson gathered to mourn the slain Baton Rouge officer, a Facebook post written by Mr. Jackson just days before he was killed began to circulate online.
In the post, Mr. Jackson described being "physically and emotionally" tired, likely alluding to a string of police-related violence earlier this month, including the deaths of two black men at the hands of police, one of which took place in Baton Rouge, and the subsequent mass shooting of twelve officers in Dallas.
"I've experienced so much in my short life and the past 3 days have tested me to the core," he wrote. "I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat."
He concluded by urging his Facebook friends to practice peace and love.
"Please don't let hate infect your heart," he wrote. "This city MUST and WILL get better. I'm working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer I got you.”
Jackson and two fellow law enforcement officers - Baton Rouge police officer Matthew Gerald and East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy Brad Garafola – were gunned down Sunday morning. Later that day, about 100 friends and family members gathered in front of Jackson's house to remember the man they described as a "gentle giant" and a "protector."
Jackson's half brother, 24-year-old Kedrick Pitts, told the Associated Press that Jackson "went above and beyond," frequently working seven days a week. He recalled his brother's sense of humor and large shoe collection.
Jackson, who was president of the homeowners' association in his suburban neighborhood of Juban Parc, leaves behind a wife and a 4-month-old son.
"He was only uneasy with anything that resorted into violence," Vicki Godal, the neighbor who posted his Facebook comments, told the Daily Beast. "He was only uneasy with people making racial slurs towards his family, his children, his life."
Mr. Gerald, one of the other officers gunned down, lived in the same community and is survived by a wife and two daughters. Family friend Skye Turner described him as "a good family man, good cop, loving husband." He had been on the force for just four months.
The third officer, Mr. Garafola, was described by a neighbor as a family man with four children who mowed other people's lawns just to be a good neighbor.
"He was low-key, happy," she told the Associated Press. "He never raised his voice, never hollered at anyone. The epitome of a peace officer."
This report contains material from the Associated Press.