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An Injustice

Category: Society
Posted: 06/16/17 22:12

by Dave Mindeman

I. Do. Not. Understand.

The police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile. I was stunned.

This was not a murder trial. The charge was involuntary manslaughter. An appropriate and just charge for the circumstances. But even with that, the officer was acquitted.

I have no personal grudge with Yanez. I am sure he is a decent officer who made a very bad mistake in judgment. But in another trial, in another state, a 17 year old girl was convicted on the same basic charge because she texted her boyfriend on a phone with a suggestion to get back in a carbon monoxide filled pickup and die. He still had a choice. She only made a suggestion. Philando Castile had no choice. He was shot by an officer of the law.

Make sense of any of that.

There is an assumption of innocence on the part of a police officer. I get that. I still believe that is probably appropriate. But maybe we need to take a serious look at what that means. Officers of the law go through years of training. They train for exact situations that Yanez faced. They are trained not to over react. To take everything into account.

And oddly enough, that all holds when an officer is involved with a white individual. Something goes terribly wrong, something changes, when an officer confronts a black person. I cannot look at these situations in any kind of denial. It is a truth. It happens. All too often.

And we have got to examine this for what it is. An inherent racism in our justice system. I don't think that police officers always have racism in their background. Many of them resist the temptation to treat races differently. I believe that. But working the streets of the cities...in urban settings...changes many of them. And we need to look at why that is.

Is it a cultural problem? Is it an urban concentration of black population? Is it a basic mistrust between the police and the black community that has developed over time? Do we have a community policing problem?

Those questions are basic to understanding all of this. But that does not change the injustice of this verdict. Of police shootings of black men (an occurrence which is much too common in this country), there are many degrees of culpability. But in the case of Philando Castile, justice was not served. Philando was an absolute victim. He deserved better than this.

Actually, we all deserved better than this. It was just wrong.
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