Murder Plain and Simple


Remembering Philando Castile. Photo by Courtney Pedroza/AP

No wonder Minnesota police waited until Tuesday - several days after one of their own was acquitted - to release dashcam video of last July's shooting of Philando Castile for, as his grieving, trenchant mother put it, being "black in the wrong place." The harrowing video shows a panicked Jeronimo Yanez, seconds after stopping Castile allegedly for a busted brake light but evidently for his black skin and "wide nose," frantically screaming at Castile not to reach for the gun he had just politely told Yanez he legally had - thanks NRA - and was not in fact reaching for; Yanez then wildly shoots, seven times, into the car while repeatedly yelling "Fuck!" over the screams of Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds.

On Friday, a jury somehow found Yanez not guilty of manslaughter - despite reportedly having both seen the video and heard his bizarre testimony that "I thought I was gonna die" because he smelled pot and if Castile had "the audacity to smoke marijuana...then what care does he give about me?” The verdict sparked righteous rage from a community that feels “we are being hunted,” in the words of Philando's mom Valerie Castile, who with other family members found an eloquence beyond us. "People have died for us to have these rights and now we're devolving," she said. "What is it going to take?" Reynolds after the verdict: "God help America.” A friend John Thompson: "It's a punch in the gut...I’m so tired of being tired, I’m so tired of being sad, I’m so tired of being angry at this system.” This system, the video makes clear, allows an execution in cold blood of a black man, even one fully compliant. For activist Shaun King, it was a "legal lynching." "This officer should have been convicted for murder," he writes, but this is America. 2017."


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