Another Hashtag, RIP Philando Castile

Friday was heartbreaking.

The verdict of Philando Castile’s death was revealed, and the policeman who killed him was found…. not guilty.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the case, page allow me to fill you in. Back in July of last year, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Castile was driving around with his girlfriend and daughter when he was pulled over for a broken taillight, in addition to matching the description of a robbery suspect (racial profile much?). While being pulled over, Castile calmly notified Officer Yanez that he had a gun with him and a license to carry. But this is where the story differs. Officer Yanez says Castile was reaching for his firearm despite his orders not to. However, Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend says he was following orders and simply reaching for his driver’s license. Either way, the story ends the same. Philando Castile was fatally shot five times by Officer Yanez (although he fired seven times).

The unjust killing quickly went viral due to Reynolds, who live streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. In the video, Castile is seen buckled up and drenched in blood while taking his last breaths, whereas Officer Yanez is seen still pointing the gun in the car, screaming, “I told him not to reach for it.” Unfortunately, although Castile was taken to the hospital, he was pronounced dead nearly half an hour after being shot. Officer Yanez was quickly charged with 2nd degree manslaughter and two counts for intentionally discharging the gun.

Fast forward to now, almost a year later, and everyone is confident that justice will finally be rewarded. The evidence is stacked; Castile was clearly compliant. The video shows him buckled in his seatbelt; not to mention the fact that there is even a video. It’s obvious that Officer Yanez made a snap decision based on his ignorance and assumptions. After all, his only defense was him feeling that his life was threatened when it wasn’t. And even then, say we give him the benefit of doubt and believe him, please tell me why he fired seven bullets? Not one, but SEVEN! And more importantly, this is supposed to be a ROUTINE traffic stop, why is your gun even out? With all of this evidence accumulated against him, there’s no way he’s walking away free right?

No. Wrong. We were so wrong. The system failed us once again. Officer Yanez was found not guilty on all charges and allowed to walk away scot-free.

Let me break this down for you… he killed an innocent man in front of his girlfriend and daughter, the aftermath was caught on video, and not only was he acquitted, but the city is also helping him find another job through a voluntary separation agreement. I really don’t get it. This has happened way too many times.

Sandra Bland. Trayvon Martin. Alton Sterling. Michael Brown. Jordan Edwards. Eric Garner. Rekia Boyd. Greg Gunn. And so many more. They really don’t care. Castile’s mom said it best,

“The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all. Like I said, because this happened with Philando, when they get done with us, they coming for you, for you, for you and all your interracial children. Y’all are next, and you will be standing up here fighting for justice just as well as I am.”

Castile’s injustice sent waves throughout the country. From tweets to protests, no one can understand or fathom how the jury came to the verdict of not guilty. However, it’s in times like these that we must stick together and fight for one another because whether or not this directly affected you, an injustice is an injustice. Imagine how far back we’d be if people only stood up for themselves. So through all the hurt, disbelief, and pain, we have to keep fighting. And we have to keep fighting together. We must protest, and keep pushing for justice. The system may not have us, but we have each other. I know it’s hard, I know it’s heartbreaking, and I know it’s frustrating, but we cannot stop, we cannot give up. Like Cleo Wade said,

“All of our freedom is linked. Your justice is my justice. There is no option other than love. There is no option other than knowing for certain that we are in this together.”

Written by Nia Quinn

Twitter: @NiaQuinn

Instagram: @pia_nia_

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