Thousands protest “not guilty” verdict for Philando Castile’s killer

July 2017 CastileBy JOHN SCHRAUFNAGEL

— ST. PAUL, Minn. — Four to five thousand people rallied at the State Capitol and marched through the streets of St. Paul on June 17, outraged over the unfair trial and unjust verdict in the case of Officer Jeronimo Yanez. Many said they had been hopeful but were not surprised that the officer was acquitted of all charges.

Yanez shot Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., on July 6, 2016, after pulling over Castile’s car for a broken tail light. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was riding in the car with her four-year-old daughter, filmed the scene just moments after he was shot. In her video, as Castile lay dying and covered with blood, he managed to tell the officer that he had not been reaching for his gun, which he had a permit to carry. Yanez’s arm can be seen still pointing his own gun into the car. Reynolds’ video quickly went viral on the internet.

This is the first time a Minnesota police officer has ever been charged when a civilian is killed. The officer was put on trial for second-degree manslaughter, and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.

The atmosphere at the rally was tense and angry. Speakers repeatedly indicted racism, capitalism, and imperialism for this miscarriage of justice—along with a criminal justice system that is set up to fail people of color. “The system continues to fail black people,” said Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie. “My son loved this city and this city killed my son, and the murderer gets away!”

The make-up of the crowd was overwhelmingly young and extremely diverse. Indigenous people, people of Asian descendent, many Somalis, Latinos, and whites joined the African-American community in expressing anger that yet another killer cop walks free.

There will be numerous people and groups looking to divide this diverse group, in order to divert our agenda. But we must keep our eyes on the ultimate culprit—capitalism.

Photo: John Schraufnagel / Socialist Action