I am deeply saddened, stunned and disappointed by the Yanez verdict, even as I am not surprised. As hopeful as I was, I am not surprised.
There is no doubt in my mind that Philando Castile’s killing was not justified. Justice has not been served. This judge, jury and legal system has failed the people of Minnesota.
His mother, Valerie, said “my son loved this city, and this city killed my son. And a murderer gets away.” Yes, it wasn’t just an officer who killed him, it was ...more than that. Philando was a good man who was endangering no one. He was no threat to anyone. This officer was the threat. This officer endangered three black lives, and ended one of them - unnecessarily and unjustifiably. It is clear that he was acquitted only because he was a police officer. Another black man has been needlessly killed by a police officer and the police officer has not been held accountable.
This case further reveals a justice system that is deeply racist. If we are able to look carefully at this case, if we study this trial, I believe we will find institutional racism and bias woven throughout the choices and decisions made by judge, lawyers and jurors alike. And, of course, by the police officer as well.
This racist, unjust, justice system needs to change. As we work to change it, part of my own work is to look carefully at my own background, biases, and prejudices, however unconscious and insidious. Another part of my work is to listen. Listen to my black, brown and indigenous neighbors and community. Listen to understand. Understand to follow.
One of our sons, who was loved by his city and our state, was killed, not just by one police officer, but by a flawed and racist system. A system that I am a part of. A system that helped put that officer there: hired him, trained him, equipped him and armed him to kill. That system has now let that officer, our son's killer, go free: unpunished, with no jail time and no criminal record, as if what he did was perfectly legal, acceptable and reasonable. As if this killing is sanctioned and condoned.
The system is guilty.
It must be dismantled and reconstructed with racial justice at its core.