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Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer

Photo by Fibonacci Blue | CC BY 2.0

This is an absolute outrage. This action. This video. This verdict. Shame on the jury and all who enabled their cruel, inhuman decision.

Philando Castillo had a license to carry, his girlfriend and her child in the car, his seatbelt fastened, and even addressed this killer cop calmly and politely as “sir,” volunteering the information that he had a firearm in the vehicle after being pulled over for a broken fucking brake light. He clearly wanted to avoid any confusion that could lead to violence. (The dash-cam video proves it.)

But all that didn’t keep this paranoid cop “protector” from unloading his gun clip into Philando like he was lower than a rabid dog. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, showed amazing courage in taking FB Live video even after this screaming killer waves a gun in her face. Without her, this whole case may not have received the national attention it has. (How many similar killings never see the light of day because they aren’t caught on tape?) She is a hero.

This cop however –and any cop who acts like this, shooting first and asking questions later, treating others’ innocent lives as if they matter less than the cops own –is a coward, as well as a killer. Such shoot-first cowardice gives the lie to all the cop-worshipping bullshit we get force-fed in this country. You know, that stuff about the police being selfless protectors of public safety who put their lives on the line every day for the sake of others.

If our “public protectors” were genuine servants of the people– instead of enforcers of an oppressive racist apartheid capitalism–wouldn’t they be willing to take the (infinitesimal) risk of suffering harm themselves rather than absolutely and forever ending the life of an innocent man, or woman, or child? Wouldn’t real “heros” be willing to die before killing the innocent?

The savage calculation this killer cop made in this sick instant was that the 1% (0.1%? 0.001%?) risk that Philando might “try something”–despite giving *every indication* to the contrary–outweighed the near 100% chance of death and lifelong family suffering that would result from murdering him where he calmly sat. (And now the jury has validated that savage math.)

And you betcha that that risk calculation is twisted by race and class prejudice as well. It is much less likely that Officer Yanez (or the jury) would have de-valued the life of a white or a wealthy-looking driver in the way he did here. And much less likely that Yanez would have leaped to the assumption that a white or wealthy person would “try something”–despite all evidence to the contrary. Which only goes to show who it is that the police force is actually there to serve, and who it’s there to harass, dehumanize, and brutalize.

No individual–cop, cowboy, or custodian– who walks around with such racist and murderous equations in their head has any business carrying a gun and a badge.

Next time some young man is put in Philando Castile’s position, could you blame him if he tries to flee? To speed away? To take off on foot? Or even…to pull a Django rather than be shot down like a dog?

When cops act like an occupying army, can you blame people if they begin to treat them like one?

25 years ago, Los Angeles burned for less than this.

It’s almost like the police are working to provoke the very kind of violence that they claim to prevent.

If the revolt this time isn’t nationwide, heaven help us, I don’t know why.

Please people, all of us, we must do all we can to make this barbarism a thing of the past. To end this racist and murderous military style policing. To hold killers and their trainers and enablers accountable. To unite with the families and existing mass organizations that have long been fighting to an end to police brutality and racist murder. There is a long struggling movement against killer cops–let us join it.

Together, let us do all we can to make the rebellion-that-must come a disciplined, targeted insurgency, a radical and strategic uprising, flanked by comrades and allies from every hue of humanity. For while this murderous police violence disproportionately targets the poor and non-white, it demands a morally outraged response from every decent human being.

It was Philando Castile’s life that was ended on July 6, 2016, but it is *all* of our humanity that is on the line today.

Let us raise the call, wherever we are: Disarm the police! & Convict killer cops!–of cowardice as well as the slaughter of the innocent.

From the courtrooms to the streets, let us shake this corrupt system until it gives us justice FOR ALL… or else comes apart against the force of our fists.

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