Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has come under a storm of criticism for what many are calling his slow response to the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling on Tuesday.
Mayoral candidate Sharon Weston Broome has joined that chorus. Broome told NewsOne that she understands the challenges of the job and doesn’t want to second-guess Holden, but he didn’t manage the incident well.
“I just believe that a timely response helps to calm a situation like this,” said the former Louisiana state senator.
Baton Rouge’s Black community did not respond with violence following the news of yet another fatal police shooting of an African-American man. Still, The Times-Picayune said community leaders had harsh words on Wednesday for Holden and police officials who were largely silent in the hours after the shooting.
Broome pointed out that the incident happened early on Tuesday morning, and the video of the shooting went viral almost immediately.
“I think what the people wanted was an expedited response,” said Broome, who has roots in the state, but grew up in Chicago. “There was too much time before we heard from our city leaders. Even if there were still some questions, [the community] should know we’re on top of this, we’re looking into this. We’re going to make sure that justice takes place.”
The candidate told NewsOne that, as mayor, she would have “talked to the community to assure them that I am deeply disturbed by what I saw.” Broome said that kind of transparency brings “peace in the midst of this situation.”
Holden, who’s running for Congress after serving 12 years as mayor, came out swinging at his critics during a press conference on Wednesday.
In a video posted on WDSU-TV‘s website, the combative mayor criticized those who are making political statements without knowing what he’s been doing behind the scenes:
“A congressman from New Orleans said, ‘I am calling for a full investigation.’ Well, we’ve already been working on that (referring to his conversations with federal investigators). It’s not like we need to be hand held and spoon fed when it comes down to doing what’s right.”
Holden said in the video that he has received offers of support from the White House and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who empathized with Baton Rouge and the challenges he faces as mayor. Some Baltimore residents rioted in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody.