By Sara Larson
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who had pulled Castile over on suspicion of a robbery that had taken place that evening. Castile informed Yanez that he had a gun, which he was legally licensed to carry. Yanez alleged that Castile was reaching for the gun, causing Yanez to fear for his life and shoot Castile seven times. The aftermath was then infamously streamed on Facebook Live by Castile’s girlfriend, garnering national attention to yet another shooting death of a black man by police. Protests erupted, with demonstrators blocking traffic on I-94 in St. Paul and gathering outside of the Governor’s mansion in St. Paul.
On November 16, 2016, Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi charged Yanez with second-degree manslaughter and 2 counts of felony discharge of a weapon. No officer had ever been charged with the shooting death of a civilian in Minnesota before, and many activists felt hopeful that perhaps this time justice would be served.
Following the verdict, thousands took to the streets with signs reading “Unite for Philando.”
When I say that I am livid over this decision, what I mean is that by being white I have the privilege to be livid. I have the energy and the agency to be livid.
Black people are tired. They are tired, and they are unsurprised. The criminal justice system has rarely, if ever, supported them. In fact, the system regularly crushes them and their communities (e.g. the War on Drugs, the prison industrial complex, racial profiling, etc.).
We white folks get to be angry. We get to be shocked. We get to feel these emotions because we are served and supported by the justice system more often than not, and those of us with a conscience expect it to work the same for everyone else. But it just does not work that way.
So what do we do? What can white people do to make change happen?
We can support our POC neighbors and community leaders. We can show up and stand in silent solidarity. We do not get the microphone, but we can be the amplifiers. We can demand change and use our own agency and positions of power to perpetuate the message that Black Lives Fucking Matter, and that we will not accept anything that decries that.
No justice, no peace. Rest in power, Philando.
This article was edited by Rachel Wohrlin
Sara Larson is a staff writer and the social media director for The Next Ten Words. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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