On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was pulled over by Jeronimo Yanez with with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year old daughter in the car. Reynolds claimed that the officer asked Castile for his license and registration and Castile told the officer that he had a weapon and his pocket and that he had a license for this weapon. Castile reached for his ID and Yanez shot him seven times. Diamond Reynolds streamed the aftermath of this shooting on Facebook Live.
According to CNN, Yanez was acquitted on all one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. The St. Anthony Police Department offered Yanez a voluntary separation agreement to help him move to another career as Yanez will no longer be with the St. Anthony Police Department. The jury was composed of two African-Americans and ten Caucasians. The verdict has caused protest and outrage around the country.
African-American college students around the country were asked how they feel about Yanez being found not guilty.
Tavius Clark, 21, Senior at Louisiana State University
“It shows that the beloved second amendment doesn’t apply to a person of color.”
Russell Williams III, 19, Junior at Philander Smith College
"I write as a 19-year old African-American male who has had positive interactions with police before. From instances of self-degradation and destruction perpetuated in my neighborhood and even household, law enforcement were actually comforting. However, this isn’t as prevalent a reality for far too many across the nation. But, if a segment of the protectors and servers of the environments they travel to and through do not have that respect to their humanity, then what good am I doing by taking the youth of my hometown out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to prevail wherever their pursuits carry them.
Bitter. Disheartened. Worried. Optimistically-Pragmatic. As someone who wants a better way of life for the youth of his hometown, but yet revel in the comfort they are subjected to - as a future lawyer — as a burgeoning public servant, I ask – Where do we go from here? And then I sigh. Take a deep breath. And remember…forward."
Natalie Loudd, 19 Sophomore at Xavier University of Louisiana
“In today’s society, I want to be shocked about recent events, but on the other hand I cannot be. Police officers are rarely charged with taking innocent black lives and it is becoming repetitive. I feel as if they give them a charge just to silence us and when a verdict is reached the officers are deemed not guilty. As an African-American, I do not feel safe in this country at times. It sickens me to know that there was live proof of Mr. Castile’s murder and the officer was found not guilty. I do not understand this just system and I don’t think I ever will."
Tatyana Williams, 17, Freshman at University of North Carolina Wilmington
“It’s painful to watch time and time again us not receive the justice that is deserved. It also frightens me that it could easily happen to my father or cousin or uncle. I want change but can it happen is the question…”
Taleia Curry, 19, Sophomore at Xavier University of Louisiana
“This case really hit home for me because 1) another senseless act of violence was acted upon an African American and 2) this act has happened in my community of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I lived not too far away from where he got shot and I felt as though my safety and the safety of the others around me was jeopardized. I am truly disappointed with the state of our legal system and how they seem to handle issues that affect millions every day.”
Amorahh Wesley, 19 Sophomore at McNeese State University
“The saddest part to me is that none of this is surprising anymore.”
Stefan Stevens, 21, Senior at Sowela Technical Community College
"Personally, I feel that its screwed up that an officer can just shoot someone they pulled over and just get out free of a charge. The people need to stand up because that is the only way the upper echelon will notice and that is the only way we can force a change to happen.
Kylar Wiltz, 20, Senior at Xavier University of Louisiana
“As an African-American male in today’s society, it is honestly hard to say that I don’t feel like a target in America. Over the past few years, many young males of my demographic have been senselessly murdered, and their killers have gotten off scotch free. Not only is this scary, but is also is appalling and disheartening. You honestly want to believe that this country has made substantial progress as far as equity in its population. But, when you have things like this constantly occurring, it is extremely hard to accept that notion. My prayers and deepest condolences go out to the family of this young man and many of the others that have faced the same fate with similar outcomes. Our justice system must do better!”
Davona Johnson, 19, Junior at University of Central Florida
“This is another example of a senseless murder and a perfect example of why here is such mistrust towards police and the justice system. We as minorities have, through experiences, been taught to fear those who are tasked with protecting us. Philando Castile represents all of our brothers, fathers, and sons. He was a son and a father and now his family is being forced to mourn his untimely death knowing the justice system failed them and him.”
Mizani Ball, 19, Junior at Xavier University of Louisiana
“Personally, I can’t say that I am disappointed because the government has shown us on multiple occasions that they do not appreciate the lives of blacks. However, this one does sting a little considering the fact that we as a nation watched Castile get murdered and still justice has not been served. I pray for the family and their lose because this is just disgusting as a nation that has gotten over racial discrimination and yet they seem to treat minority’s as second class citizens.”
Aidea Downie, 20, Senior at Brown University
"When I think of Philando Castile, I think of Freddy Gray, Michael Brown, Sandra bland, and the list goes on and on. Too many lives lost in our continuous struggle for freedom and equality. What is understood is that if change is going to come, we must address the anti-blackness that lives on in the policing force. Jeronimo Yanez is Latino but he is not exempt from being able to harbor racial prejudice because he is a person of color."
Mailon Baily, 19, Sophomore at University of North Texas
“The acquittal of the officer that shot Castile is truly heartbreaking and troubling. He was apparently respectful to the officer and did the things that I have been taught to do when dealing with the police and still ended up being killed. The system has once again failed us and leaves me wondering who is next.”
Shondrel Ortiz, 19, Sophomore at Xavier University of Louisiana
“When every news app on my phone notified me that Philando Castile’s murderer had been acquitted of all charges, I didn’t get angry. I didn’t even flinch at the sight of the headlines because this has become our norm. With the growth of social media, we have seen countless Black citizens die at the hands of those sworn to protect us, and not one person has been held accountable for their actions. There was no justice for Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant III, or any of the others, so I definitely wasn’t expecting justice for Philando Castile. I couldn’t be disappointed by the news if I never had any hope to begin with.”
T'ara McKay, 19, Junior at University of Louisiana at Lafayette
"I didn't have a reaction to the verdict. I've come to a point where I've accepted the world we live in, that it is set up for blacks to fail. In the America we live in, they are continuing to break us down psychologically. This situation has become the status quo to me and that is sad."
Stephen-Michael Thompson Jr., 19, Sophomore at Morgan State University
"Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer...in front of his Wife and Daughter. That's unacceptable. His last breaths were streamed live in his front seat and it was a very horrible scenes. Personally, this has been the worse scene of police brutality I've ever seen. And it's sad that I've seen many of them in my opinion. The officer getting off innocent and finally losing his job was a huge slap on the wrist. It's like saying "Good Job Son, do better next time". That's how it feels. Although Castile had a gun on him, he had a license for it. Due to this, the logic of shooting this man little. Overall, this process was been long and tiring for everyone involved. The Minnesota justice system is just another example of how justice failed once again."
Angel Dixon, 19, Sophomore at Xavier University of Louisiana
“I’m not surprised at all by the verdict, but I’m tired of being continually forced to believe in a justice system that fails me each and every single time.”
Alexis Ellis, 25, Louisiana State University
"The Philando Castile verdict has left me speechless and heartbroken. It is because of cases like this that I avoid the news at every cost. I can only imagine the betrayal that his family is feeling, and my earnest prayers go out to them. Our nations justice system has failed the community time and time again to where many have lost all hope and confidence in the police departments, the courts, and even the media that continuously twist stories and cast a negative light on victims of color. A life was lost that can never be returned; what is the price for a life? The state of our nation is absolutely discouraging; it is all I can do to cry out to God to help us. Many feel helpless and lost because too often the 'system' is against us as African-Americans and there are few to advocate for us and treasure the worth of our lives. What is next? How many bodies have to be buried before something changes? Only God knows."
Camren Green, 18, Freshman at Northwestern University
"It seems like our justice system is so broken that they'll let someone who murdered another human in cold blood, walk away. We as Americans, and especially as Black individuals need to do better. Doesn't specifically have to be for our country but for our future! If we want change we need to create it by any means necessary and to make sure that this and many of our brothers' and sisters' deaths are brought to justice."
Torrence Whitlock, 20, University of Antelope Valley
"I feel like as a young black male no matter what we look like or how we dress, it just doesn't matter if we do everything right. The police will continue to do things like this and will continue to be our so called protectors by killing young black men and claiming they were in the right."
The verdict has also caused outrage among African-American leaders.
Andres Martin, Founder of HBCU Night
"Justice has NOT been served for Philando Castile. This man was murdered by Officer Jeronimo Yanez for FOLLOWING HIS DIRECTIONS! Furthermore, the officer was acquitted and found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter even with video evidence of him murdering a man that was doing what he was told to do and absolutely NOTHING WRONG. This is NOT just a small issue. An innocent man's life was taken by a police officer in the wrong and JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED! We as law abiding citizens must be EDUCATED, PROTECTED, AND SERVED THE CORRECT WAY! NOT MURDERED!"
The verdict has left many without hope for the future. Many were not even shocked by the verdict because they expected that justice would not be served. To many it illustrates just little an African-American's life is worth in this country. Something must change now. There can be no more Trayvon Martins, Alton Sterlings, or Philando Castiles.
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons