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December 19, 2016

Human Story: Minnesota

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was driving in suburban Minnesota with his girlfriend and her daughter in the car. He was pulled over for a busted taillight, although it was later revealed that he was actually pulled over for a crime committed by an entirely different black man in a different part of the city earlier than day, the reason he fit the description was that he had a “wide nose.”

Upon being approached by Officer Jeronimo Yanez, he said that he had a license to carry a concealed weapon and that he had one in his pants pocket for which he was going to reach. Before he could reach the weapon, Yanez shot him seven times.

At this time Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond, began to livestream the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live which showed her realizing he was dying, interacting with the officer, and trying to calm her four-year old daughter who had been in the backseat throughout the entire ordeal.

Mr. Castile was a thirty-two year old African American male from Saint Louis, Missouri. He worked in the lunchroom at a nearby elementary school where many students and their parents claimed he was well-liked and admired.

In his lifetime, he had been stopped by the police fifty-two times for minor traffic infractions, none of which resulted in any charges.

Four months after the shooting, on November 16, 2016, the county attorney announced that the police officer was being charged with one count of second degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm claiming that “no reasonable officer… would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”

Now, Black Lives Matters activists were all over this event claiming that the police officer involved was racially profiling and that this killing was a direct result of some preconceived notions of race and safety held by the officer. This is obviously true and one instance in which I side entirely with BLM and their demonstrations to follow.

When I talk about my rights as a gun owning citizen of America, I do fully acknowledging that these rights need to be made available and respected for all citizens of this great nation. This constitution may have been written for the (white people) and by the (wealthy white) people, but even the constitution can be amended and with the addition of the second amendment (to bear arms) eventually came the fourteenth amendment (addressing citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws).

In order for my rights to matter, they must be extended to all law-abiding American Citizens. That Officer Jiminez was charged with manslaughter is a great step towards second amendment equality among Americans regardless of race and I can only pray that his conviction follows suit.

Following the shooting, the attorney for this (egregiously incompetent) officer stated that his client had merely reacted to the presence of a firearm and that the shooting “had nothing to do with race.” He followed that up with “this had everything to do with the presence of a gun.”

To claim that the gun itself was the root of this terrifying and unjust event rather than the obvious fact that this officer shot this man SEVEN TIMES due to the color of his skin is to undercut the entire second amendment movement and the constitution for which it stands.