Do black lives matter in this country? You remember Philando Castile, one of the many victims of execution by police last year. Philando was shot in front of his girlfriend and her 4 year old daughter by Officer Jeronimo Yanez in St. Paul, Minnesota, then left to bleed out while they cuffed his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, the driver of the car.
Officer Yanez was awarded $48,000 in severance pay after being acquitted of all charges.
So who will go to jail following this egregious miscarriage of justice? Castile's cousin, Louis Hunter, might.
Hunter was one of thousands who protested the killing. Here, in his own words, is what happened next:
My name is Louis Hunter, and I could be the only person to serve jail time as a result of my cousin Philando Castile’s murder--while former officer, Jeronimo Yanez, walks free with a $48K severance check in his pocket.1
I am a loving father of four, a landscaper, and an active member of United Church of God in Christ. Last year, I attended the I-94 protest to stand against police violence and demand justice for Philando. And, like many that night, I chose to leave of my own accord rather than risk arrest. I never threw anything at the riot police; I would never do that. That’s not me. But to my surprise, the next day, cops surrounded my truck and arrested me on felony riot charges, making claims about things that I never did. They impounded my truck, leaving me unable to work as a landscaper. And my family and I were evicted from our home, five days after the arrest.2
Prosecutors let my cousin’s murderer go free, but are pursuing these harsh and cruel charges against me without any evidence. All I did was attend a protest. Clearly, these charges are an attempt to silence and punish dissent in response to a profound injustice. My case goes to trial on , and we don’t have much time to get the charges dropped. I’m asking you, please, will you stand in solidarity with me?
Tell the Ramsey and Carver County Attorney offices: Drop the charges against Louis Hunter. A 10-year prison sentence for protest is not justice for Philando.
The cops’ story has changed about three times since they arrested me. First, they said I threw a molotov cocktail. But when the evidence didn’t support their lie, they switched their claim and said I wielded a board against police officers. When they weren’t able to find evidence for that, they resorted to just alleging “riotous behavior.”
The media isn’t even mentioning the hardship my family faces merely because I attended a protest. Philando is gone, without justice. And I could be gone too--on a 10-year bid--for being in the right place at the wrong time, just like my cousin.
The prosecutor recently offered me a deal: plead guilty to gross misdemeanor riot, to be sentenced as a misdemeanor, including jail time. They thought it was a “generous offer,” but I refuse to plead guilty to something I didn’t do. They made that offer because their case is weak. I can’t agree to a charge that will set back everything I’ve worked for in my life: my business, a good place to live, providing for my family.
That’s why we need to pressure the prosecutor to drop these charges before it’s too late.
I didn’t do anything but stand up for justice. I don’t deserve to go to prison, while Philando’s murderer walks free.
1. "Cop who killed Philando Castile to be paid $48,500 in buyout," USAToday, 07-10-2017
2. "Support Louis Hunter," supportlouishunter.org, 07-27-2017Castile and Reynolds were pulled over because police thought they "looked like" the suspects in a recent robbery. I am guessing that Hunter "looked like" suspects that threw things at police as thousands poured into the streets to protest following Officer Yanez's aquittal.
Similar to how 12 year old Tamir Rice "looked like" a dangerous man in a park with a (toy) gun. That injustice can never be undone -- despite the city of Cleveland's $6,000,000 payment to Rice's family.
If police aren't able to identify people any better than that they should all be fired.
When black lives do matter as much as white lives in this country, maybe they will be.
|This man's sign refers to the fact that Castile was a popular school nutrition worker before his tragic death.|
If police can't manage their fear any better than Officer Yanez -- and a host of others claiming they were scared as justification for outright murder -- they should all be fired.
The huge injustices visited on black children and their families every single day in my lifetime are a reasonable basis for fear. But the cure is not gunning people down in the streets, or harassing them with trumped up charges.
The cure is justice. The cure is equal access to opportunities, affirmative action and reparations. The cure is accountability for white supremacy and its evils.
Every time police kill an innocent person of color, the world gets less safe -- for everyone.