Thoughts on the Yanez verdict and protests

Protesters hold banner in honor of Philando Castile at the MN State Capitol, June 16 (Photo by Raymond Jackson)

On Friday, June 16, 2017, at approximately 4 pm central daylight time, it was announced on many media outlets, that Police Officer Geronimo Yanez was found not guilty of three charges that included manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile.

Castile, an African American male, was shot five times by Yanez on July 6, 2016. Yanez claimed he shot him because he feared for his life. He shot even times into the vehicle driven by Castile, after stopping him and his girlfriend and her six-year-old daughter for what Yanez said in court was a broken tail light.

For almost a year now, no one has said anything negative about Castile, who worked at a public elementary school in the lunch and nutrition department. All of the children, it appears, loved him, as well as, his co-workers and supervisors.

Castile told Yanez, as documented in the video, that he had a gun. He was legally licensed to carry it. He was then told by Yanez to produce identification. When he reached into his pocket to get his I.D., he was shot to death. Reports are that Yanez was found not guilty because he followed his training.

The verdict in the trial resulted in many protests. The biggest of which was on Friday June 16, which resulted in 18 arrests as protesters marched from the Minnesota State Captiol, down the streets of St. Paul to eventually shut down I-94 for roughly three hours.

The City of St. Paul Police Department had members receive special train for situations such as this and deserves two thumbs up for seemingly using that training and good restraint in eventually defusing potentially volatile situations. This is training perhaps needed in all police training procedures.

The MSR spoke with some supporters, including, M.L. who stated, “I am not new school, nor am I an elder, often referred to as ole school. So, I suppose I am mid school. I say this because there is a unique cross blend here tonight. What these young people need and are asking for is more ole School support.”

Louis interjected, “Tonight I realize what my son has been saying to me. When a young person refers to me as ole school, it is a greeting and means respect. Those are chances to positively respond to and interact with them.”

Many major media outlets reported the number of attendees to be in the hundreds, maybe a thousand or so. There appeared to be many more than that with the majority ethnically being European Americans.

Human Rights activist Mel Reeves stated, “I take all acts of racial negativism personally. This has gone on for a long time, these deaths. It’s just the same ole, same ole here in America, only the names have changed; Philando, Jamar, Tyree. We obviously have to organize and educate. Do what we know is right!”

The night was very, very peaceful, including the closing of Interstate 94. Many of the protesters acted as traffic cops, directing vehicles to safely exit and not be afraid.

This was an enlightening experience, even for me, a writer/reporter for more than three decades. There is truly only one race, the human race.


Raymond Jackson welcomes readers’ responses to