What Had Philando Done?

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The pallbearers/Photo by AP

The fraught and moving funeral of Philando Castile drew thousands to the Cathedral of Saint Paul, where spectators lining the route of his white casket on a horse-drawn carriage declared themselves "United for Philando" and faith leaders mourning the latest victim of this country's random racist police violence prayed for "a tiny measure of peace." In his eulogy, the Rev. Steve Daniels Jr. of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, a son of 1950s Mississippi, questioned the persistence of racial profiling, noted that today's protesters are rightly tired of being “wrongfully murdered,” and pointedly asked,  "What had Philando done?" He added mournfully, "God has used Philando to be the face, to be the cause, to be the seed, to be the sacrifice." Later Demetrius Bennett, who went to high school with Castile, said it's not Castile's death but his life and work with kids as a beloved cook at the local Montessori School should be honored: "His name should be in lights."

Even as Castile's pallbearers, dressed all in white, carried him to the carriage with a fierce Black Power salute, distressing news accounts proved that his senseless death at the hands of a panicked cop was entirely foreseeable. First, newly released data shows that almost half of those arrested by police in St. Anthony, the Minneapolis suburb where Castile was stopped and murdered, are black, despite the fact that African-Americans make up only about 7% of the population. It also turns out that Jeronimo Yanez, Castile's killer cop, had previously attended a dubious seminar by the for-profit Calibre Press, infamous among some law enforcement experts for paranoia-stoking, shoot-when-in-doubt, "irresponsible” and “dangerous” so-called training sessions focused on the message to cops that "hesitation can get you killed." Yanez reportedly took their seminar "The Bulletproof Warrior" in 2014; the year before, he also took "Street Survival" and “Officer Survival.” His priorities were clear. Alas Castile, too many black men and women, and ultimately all of us pay the untenable price. 

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Photo by Elizabeth Flores/AP

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Along the funeral route

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