Today, Officer Yanez was found not guilty on all charges—he murdered Philando Castile on July 6, 2016. Today, our grief for the loss of Philando’s life is compounded with the grief of injustice.
Philando’s senseless death should at least stand for progress, but it will join a long list of police executions—fueled by an established culture of racial profiling and excessive force built on laws upholding white supremacy—nationwide. We had hope, with this verdict, that things would be different, that we wouldn’t see our state sanction another murder.
Philando had not committed a crime—he was pulled over for ‘matching the description’ of a robbery suspect. We lost Philando like so many black men, for no reason other than their appearance. Yanez’ attorney argued that Philando had it coming because he was known for smoking marijuana—as a white man who injected much worse and was caught red-handed in a burglary, are any of us surprised that Philando is the one who is dead, and I’m the one writing about it?
In 2017, our hearts always hang heavy, but today our heads hang heavy too—let us never forget the murders of Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Khaleel Thompson, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Terence Crutcher, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Terrance Franklin, Aiyana Jones, Laquan McDonald, and the thousands who fall victim to this system designed to maintain racial hierarchy.
Just because our hearts have evolved to see the inherent injustice, it doesn't mean the system has. Unless we actively disrupt systems of white supremacy, we are destined to uphold them. We are all complicit. We are all responsible.