Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I'm sure you've seen the horrific dash cam video by now. Even so, here it is again:
After handing his license and insurance card to Officer Jeronimo Yanez, at the 0:42 mark Philando Castile says, "Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me."
Yanez: "Don't reach for it then. Don't pull it out."
Castile: "I'm not pulling it out."
Castile's girlfriend: "He's not pulling it out."
At the 0:50 mark, Yanez fires 7 shots into Castile, then screams, "Don't pull it out!"
Castile's last words: "I wasn't."
Incredibly, a Minnesota jury acquitted Yanez of manslaughter charges. Yanez got off because he said he thought he smelled pot (not a capital offense), and he thought Castile was going for his gun (he wasn't), and he therefore "feared for his life."
In reality, Castile was shot because he was black, and cops are trained to racially profile. Cops are also trained to say things like, "I thought he had a gun" and "I feared for my life" every time they discharge their weapons. It's their get-out-of-jail-free card, and it works. Cops successfully avoid responsibility on this basis all the time.
"Oh, the guy was black and you were scared, and so you shot him dead? Completely understandable and legally justified. Everybody knows black people are scary and always carry guns and are high all the time. Yes, better to shoot first and ask questions later."
Philando Castile, St. Paul. John Crawford III, Dayton. Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO. Tamir Rice, Cleveland. Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge. Walter Scott, Charleston, SC. Samuel Dubose, Cincinnati. Tyre King, Columbus. Keith Scott, Charlotte.
Each was an unarmed black man recently shot dead by police. A couple were children. Each shooting was unjustified. In fact, each was a gross injustice. (The complete list is much longer. Those are just the ones I can remember. Could add Eric Garner, New York City, and Freddie Gray, Baltimore, but they were choked and beaten to death, not shot.) In almost every case, the cops were exonerated, and most were not even criminally charged. The cop in the Walter Scott case escaped criminal prosecution and heavy jail time by pleading guilty to violating Scott's civil rights. After a mistrial, the cop in the Dubose case is being retried on criminal charges, and the jury is still deliberating.
And it's a gross injustice that these incidents have become a "normal" part of being a black person in America. Must every black person now resort to the demeaning strategy Trevor Noah calls "extreme surrender"?