We can and we ought to take the mic!

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Last night in a moment captured all over the country and parts of the world, people witnessed in Minneapolis an amazing moment of lucidity, clarity and sense of purpose. My fellow protestors lead brilliantly by John Thompson, Chauntyll Allen, Michelle Gross, Curtis Avent Jacob Ladda, Emily Flower,AJ Cardenas Nekima Levy-Pounds ( who would have been with us but was having her baby) KingDemetrius Pendleton (Listen Media) and a few others, with an uncanny sense of timing turned Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges press conference into the people’s press conference calling, for her resignation, while denouncing the unresponsiveness, lawlessness and ineffectiveness of her administration in meeting the needs (especially safety from the police violence) of its constituents.
Hodges called the conference to appease the demand for justice for victims of police violence, the latest of which was Justine Damond, by firing the current police chief Janae Harteau and appointing Black assistant chief Medaria Arradondo as the new chief.
But the effort to hoodwink and distract the public was exposed by anti- police violence activists before she could make her announcement. John Thompson rightly called on her and her entire staff to resign saying, “if the mayor can’t represent us then she ought to step down.”
“This is our house you can’t lock us out of our house,” said Thompson during the “Peoples Press Conference. He very astutely pointed out that the problems in City Hall has been going on for decades.
During “OUR” conference I chimed in as well, making the point that cosmetic changes aren’t enough, but what is needed is an overhaul of the entire system of policing and the system that it serves. I also pointed out that we won’t be tricked by simply having a “Black face in a White place.” Arrodondo indeed is my color and a nice guy, he has been thoughtful and respectful in all of my interactions with him over the years.
But he has sided with an institution that has historically and currently serves as an occupying and oppressive and brutal force in our community. The mayor’s firing of the police chief was like putting clean or new clothes on a dirty body, while it might look good on the outside, the body still stinks.
The problem is the institution of policing and the system they protect. The hard truth is as long as this socio-economic-political system is in place, there will be a need for this kind of policing. The kind of policing in which police intimidate harass, brutalize, bully and sometimes kill people. Until we decide we want to live in a just and equitable society, we will have the police (as we now know them), whose job is to maintain and reinforce societal divisions of race, sex, nationality and religion and clean up the fall- out from a fundamentally unjust and inequitable society.
The people advanced an unassailable argument, ”Why should we pay taxes for you to brutalize and kill us?” City Hall is supposed to be representative of the people and we shouldn’t have to beg folks in it to do our bidding. And as John pointed out, “even the furniture is ours”.
Its becoming more clear that the people ought to run this city and other Big cities, the people should run this country and not the profiteers, the warmongers, the blood suckers and parasites.
Our group got right to the point. Not only police chief Harteau, but the mayor, her staff and the whole damn system should be thrown out.
People want to be policed by a force that recognizes their humanity.
But this will only come about in a society that changes its values and ultimately changes the class who leads it. This present society is run by the ruling class, the bosses for the needs of profit.
Most major decisions revolve around what is it good for Big Business rather than what’s good for the majority; the citizens.
Mayor Hodges doesn’t represent us no more than the mayor before her and the mayor before her and the mayor before that represented the interests of the city.
Hodges refused to stand up for her clientele when the state legislature threatened to cut the transit budget for the Twin Cities. She and many of her cronies opposed efforts to implement a $15 minimum wage despite the fact that the vast majority of the citizens in the city signed on to it in a referendum.
She has failed to stand up for single women who face discrimination from landlords who saddle them with bad rental records for simply asking for lawful repairs and upkeep. She and her administration has only paid lip service to the employment discrimination in this city, which at one point lead the nation in Black and White unemployment disparity. Blacks at one point were three times more likely to be unemployed than Whites in Minneapolis.
And when Blacks have been brutalized by police, Hodges, Harteau and County Attorney Mike Freeman have responded by patronizingly telling the community how they should behave and respond to the system’s denial of justice.
Time indeed for a change and we indeed are the people who can bring it about!
justice then peace

Damond police killing: Be not deceived cops are cops and wrong is wrong!

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It appears quite likely that the Minneapolis power structure is going to throw the Somali police officer Mohamed Noor ,who allegedly shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond, under the bus. People have been making that assessment all over the country and they are right, but it would be a mistake to stop there, or give some kind of moral support to Noor because he is Black. Right is right and wrong and is wrong! Noor took sides when he put on the uniform, and it wasn’t the side of the people.
It’s also important to note that the corporate press and power structure has portrayed Noor in a positive light, (just as they have Damond) as one of the “good ones.” They have written of the mayor’s support for him and interviewed family friends and even youth painting a picture of Noor as a “role model.”
As in the more recent case of Philando Castile, whose killer Jeronimo Yanez was likely charged (when other White officers historically had avoided that fate) because he was Latino. However he was still seen by the jury as a honorary White and as “believable” and therefore was exonerated. We can speculate with lots of history to support us, that Noor will be prosecuted because he is Black, Somali and Muslim.
Recently in New York,the Chinese population was up in arms because Peter Liang who is Asian,was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Akai Gurley who he killed in 2014 when he accidentally discharged his weapon in a tenement stairway.
Gurley’s character was smeared and scandalized in the Big Business press ( as they usually do victims of police violence), especially Black victims of police brutality. And they prosecuted the Asian cop which of course is something that seldom happens when Blacks (and just about everybody who isn’t rich) are victimized by the police. He was charged with the highest crime the system could throw at him, and was subsequently convicted and of course then let off by the system, which refused to give him jail time!
But it was obvious he had been the victim of a double standard and was simply easier for a racist and brutal system to scapegoat him.
Unfortunately the Asian community organized by the thousands to protest the verdict, rather than supporting the call for justice for Akai, saying Liang was scapegoated. No doubt he was, but he was not innocent and just as importantly, he in essence wasn’t really one of them. The relationship between the Black and Asian communities in New York still suffers as a result of this wrongheaded defense of the cop.
However a brave and justice minded group of young Asian Americans made a point of standing with the Gurley family and the Black community and others who demanded justice in the case.They were never tricked into defending the Chinese cop because he was Asian like them. They correctly saw Liang as a cop, who serves a fundamentally racist, classist and unjust system.
It would behoove everyone to also see this for what it is. Yes acknowledge that it’s going to be easier to prosecute Noor in a racist society, if it turns out that he indeed was the shooter. No doubt it could be worse than speculation has so far concluded, it is possible that Noor wasn’t the trigger man and is being entirely set up as the fall guy.
But it is also important to acknowledge that if indeed Noor shot Ruszczyk Damond, that is WRONG and he should be held accountable.
Since policing is such a problem in the US, its time that we face the truth about the role of the police. The cops serve and protect the interests of the power structure: period. Despite all the propaganda, they are not our friends no matter what color, sex or nationality. When a person puts on that uniform their allegiance is to that uniform, not their race sex or nationality. In fact the police serve to reinforce the stereotypes in our society which is why they over police in Communities of Color and why they brutalize and kill youth, women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community.
The cops hit folks with their sticks to remind them of their place in this society, which is why White people (who are not rich) are victimized as well . They unequally enforce the law, while enforcing laws that are fundamentally unjust and biased.
It is imperative that we are clear and refuse to fall for the tricks of the system. A White cop is a cop. A Black cop is a cop. A woman cop is a cop. An LGBTQ cop is a cop. A Somali cop is a cop. A Latinx cop is a cop. An Asian cop is a cop. A Somali cop is a cop!
Incidentally, I don’t recall the Black community ever as a group supporting that which is morally and fundamentally wrong.
Some have spoke of callously refusing to support the call for justice for the blonde White woman in this case, because they feel White folks haven’t been supportive of others calls for justice. But that is inconsistent with the history of Black folks in this country. Black humanity despite being enslaved, dehumanized and oppressed always managed to identify with the suffering of others and other struggles against oppression. Black folks always maintained their humanity.
This system has taken a lot from Black folks it but it shouldn’t be allowed to take away that which has distinguished them as a race in this American experiment:their humanity!
justice then peace

Philando trial: The system worked and then rubbed it in! Part I

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Looking back on the jeronimo yanez trial it’s even more clear that It took an amazing amount of nerve for Ramsey County prosecutor john choi to tell the community that “we have to accept this verdict.” He also implied that the trial and the process leading up to it was “fair and impartial” but judging from the information recently revealed about the investigation into the shooting, the lackadaisical prosecution, biased rulings by judge william leary along with his subsequent letter supporting the verdict and the clearly biased jurors, nothing could be further from the truth. (no caps meant as a sign of disrespect)
The trial confirmed most folks suspicions that the US system is biased partial and blatantly unfair. And that it is nearly impossible for a Black person to get a fair shake from it: dead or alive.
Everything that has been revealed about the trial of jeronimo yanez for killing Philando Castile has revealed a system that is biased to its core, that quite frankly is not worthy of respect.
Immediately after the killing, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) investigators worked to try to find evidence that would help officer yanez, rather than get to the facts of the shooting. They grilled Diamond Reynolds for three hours immediately after shooting while allowing the killer yanez 24 hours to concoct his lie. Even the prosecutors got in on the act investigating Castile rather than the cop they were supposedly trying to convict.
The prosecution which did appear to make its case, but didn’t have its heart in it, as they failed to humanize their client. It’s not possible they didn’t know what a great guy he was because they spent most of their time looking into his background.
Incredibly, the prosecution only called ONE character witness, a teacher at JJ Hill school, where Philando was referred to as Mr Phil and was beloved by staff and students. No doubt the prosecutors could have naively assumed that the jury would give their deceased client the benefit of the doubt, since the case involved two human beings, one on trial for wrongfully, killing the other.
But they would be mistaken, it is not automatically assumed in this society, that Black people are human beings. In fact often when law enforcement victimizes a Black person, there is a kind of built in societal justification for the death or the abuse, if the person had drugs in their system, a criminal record, or were unemployed.
It’s why the defense team kept pushing the marijuana theme. They know that people high on marijuana are not a threat, but they continued to make allegations that it inhibited his ability to follow commands as a way of sullying Philando’s character, despite the fact that a large number of White Americans smoke weed as well.
Speaking of the defense lawyers,( again proving race brings out the worst in folks) earl grey, who won a case in which arguably there are no winners, decided to pop off about it. Someone should tell him to shut up and that he won, only a callous pig or thug, would rub it in.
The despicable Mr grey asked after the trial, “Would you let Philando pull a gun on you” knowing that the evidence did not support such a spurious and slanderous claim. The physical evidence (gun found deep in his pocket, trigger finger shot), along with yanez’s statement immediately afterward to his supervisor that he “didn’t know where it was,” made it absolutely clear he did not pull a gun on yanez despite what the prejudiced jurors, concluded.
Grey’s lack of decorum and sensitivity is amazing considering he brushed shoulders with Philando’s mother Valerie, every day in court. But it’s a Black man that’s dead, so grey wasn’t bound by the normal rules of human decorum, which dictate that sensitivity, compassion and empathy and plain old human decency be employed in such a tragic situation.
Strangely the father of four had no comment when he was asked if he was aware of the pain that the decision caused the community. But he had a lot to say when no one was asking his opinion.
A self-respecting community would let him know just how they felt about his insensitive and callous remarks.
For the unaware, the presiding Christian and obviously biased judge leary, (who faithfully attends mass every day) took it upon himself to write a letter telling the jury that it did the “right” thing.
Sounding like a robed 1950’s night- rider, leary wrote that he wanted to thank the jurors “for the profound public service you provided to this country and the State of Minnesota,…. I write to re-assure you that you faithfully fulfilled the difficult task you were asked to undertake.”
Indeed they did!
justice then peace

Essence Festival 2017: And Still We Rise! Ashe’


There they were decked out in every imaginable kaleidoscope and hue of brown and black hue, it’s hard to imagine a people so proud, so beautiful, so vivacious, so full of life could at the same time be so despised. But that’s what the 23rd Annual Essence Festival brought to the table, our own little brief respite from the pain of being Black in the US and placed people on a temporary island of tranquility.
Nevertheless, there they were and in the midst of them were arguably some of the most striking women in the universe,covering every spectrum of brown, black and even a shade of gray; they also came in caramel, butterscotch, honey, dark and milk chocolate, ebony and mahogany.
There was no mistaking the West African Mother land’s contribution, as they sashayed about with their big and almond eyes, big lips and big behinds, wide hips, wide set noses and toned thighs. Yes they wore broad smiles, with their high cheek bones and sometime high foreheads. They wore every kind of cloth and style imaginable and made every fashion, every dress, every skirt, every pair of pants and one piece outfit look as if it was tailor made for them. As a crown they wore nappy, curly, straightened and natural (and purchased) hair.
“Still I Rise,” you could hear if you listened closely! Maya Angelou’s paraphrase of the African experience in America in three words, seemed to be coming from the movement of the people.
“Still I Rise,” Essence seemed to prove, as it put on display of Black excellence, specifically Black female excellence. There were Black entrepreneurs, Black clothing, Black books, Black hair care products, Black artists, Black directors, even Black food vendors. Gospel music was also recognized and given a place in the Festival, as Essence honored Cissy Houston.
Every Black experience was accounted for, even our social/health issues, from HIV to Sickle Cell to police violence as there was even a booth entitled COP STOP to help people inform their friends when they are being stopped by police.
This year organizers presented the WOKE award for those who have contributed to the struggle against racism. Ava DuVernay and Patrice Cullars of Black Lives Matter shared the honor.
DuVernay made the interesting point that part of being WOKE is being there for those around you, she gave the example of the cast of Queen Sugar showing up at her father’s funeral. No doubt a part or real consciousness has to include restoring the idea of the “Village” along with a comprehensive understanding of the role of racism in our social/ political/economic system.
Racism and police violence, are principle parts of the Black experience in North America and was reflected in a song by Jill Scott during her Friday night Superdome concert performance. The song was accompanied by a video collage that included Philando Castile’s mother Valerie Castile’s press conference, after this system allowed yet another cop to get away with murdering her son.
How far Black America has come was also reflected in the music as the elder stateswoman Diana Ross closed out Friday night with a performance that brought back lots of memories.
Ross’ career has spanned 5 decades. It’s difficult to believe that she can still perform, but there she was going through a melody of her Supremes hits and her more well- known tunes from her solo career. And yes she opened to, “I’m Coming Out”
It was as if she was spanning parts of the sound track of the lives of the old- schoolers in attendance. “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Baby Love”, “Love Child”, “Aint No Mountain” spanned a time of hope and turmoil. The 1960’s don’t seem all that important now, but at the time,Ross and her group helped folks dance through their pain.
Ross and the Supremes were touched by the times as well, as Barry Gordy according to rumors, projected Ross as lead singer over the vocally talented Florence Ballard in order to appeal to a “broader” audience. The Supremes indeed were a cross- over success, but it may have cost Ballard her well-being.
Skeletons seemed to dominate the landscape as Mary J Blige, who admits that she sang to escape the blues of living hardcore poor and Black in America, took the stage on Saturday night and vicariously sang away her pain, much to her fans delight.
Chaka Khan fittingly closed the second night with “ I’m Every Woman” which brought back memories of the late great Whitney Houston, who Black America watched die right in from of them, a painful reminder of the late 1980’s early 90’s crack scourge that hit the community like a storm.
Moreover, the Ninth Ward’s rundown shadow of its old self post Katrina, also casts a pale on the Festival. Hopefully the organizers will one day find a creative way to include its reconstruction as part of its yearly confab.
Yet,’ Still We Rise’ would encapsulate the Festival this year. It was held without Confederate statutes as a back drop, which have been torn down earlier this year. One of them was of Robert E Lee, which literally stood 300 yards from the Morial Convention Center.
justice then peace


Twin Cities Pride Parade reversal on allowing cops in parade demonstrates “Blacks have no rights Whites are bound to respect”

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The reversal of PRIDE parade leadership from its earlier decision to limit the participation of local cops in this year’s Pride Parade and festival, makes it clear that disrespect for Black folks is the order of the day in the Twin Cities. It has been for some time while claiming to be a bastion of liberalism, progressivism and decency. It is neither.

The truth is Black folks in this locale have long been treated as if they have “no rights that White folks (especially those in power) are bound to respect.”

The Twin Cities Pride Parade organizers were attempting to be sensitive to the community’s pain after St Anthony cop Jeronimo Yanez got away with killing Philando Castile, by limiting police participation in this year’s parade. The organizers wrote on FaceBook, “We always have several police departments wanting to roll down Hennepin with lights and sirens to participate in this announcement that the parade is about to begin.With the recent verdict in the Philando Castile case Twin Cities Pride has decided to forgo this part of the police participation in the parade for this year and respect the pain the community is feeling right now.”

It was a request that made sense, considering that people’s feelings are still raw from seeing the squad video and trying to make sense of the senseless killing and subsequent senseless verdict.

But both St Paul and Minneapolis police leaders acted as if someone had shot their dog.  Even the heads of the cops federation chimed in, as if they have some kind of moral standing.

“If your organization is about love and acceptance … it’s kinda ironic,” St Paul police assistant head Nash said. “Members of the LGBTQ cross a lot of occupations. There’s a lot of good cops every day trying to do the right thing.”

Dave Titus the borderline thug, who heads the St Paul Police Federation claimed,” to exile gay and straight officers from the parade runs counter to the values the organization claims to promote,”

Minneapolis Police Chief Janea Harteau, who is an open lesbian, claimed that  “the decision  was “divisive” at a time when the police were trying to mend fractured ties with marginalized communities.”

Harteau  has proven  that a gay person can run be just as ruthless, dishonest  and disrespectful in leading the occupying and oppressive force that we know as the police.  And this statement is further proof. There can be no mending of so-called fractured ties, unless the police stop over-policing and harassing the community and serving as patrollers enforcing unjust laws.

“I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal, and the message of division and not inclusion is hurtful to many of us,” she wrote. “Police officers are more than just officers, they are human beings with families who are also part of this community.”

Harteau claims that the cops are human beings! If that’s the case why didn’t they act like human beings, and respect the request of another set of human beings, asking that you respect their right to not include you for a year, because your very presence is a reminder of the community’s pain.

The police didn’t act like human beings in this case, they acted like armed Bullies! The correct human response would have been to say, I see the community needs it  space, so we will give it to them. But the cops couldn’t give that to the community, because they don’t respect the community. Their real role is an oppressive one, which is to remind us at ALL TIMES who is running things.

The truth is they are not human beings, they are the POLICE!

Moreover this dispels the notion that we live in a free, open and democratic society. If we lived in a free and open and democratic society, we could ask the police to sit it out and they would comply. The parade organizers permit required that a cop car lead the parade, that is all that the Parade organizers were bound to, they weren’t required to allow police to march in it.

But Harteau and her gang BULLIED the Festival committee and insisted that they be included because let’s face it, they don’t give a damn about the communities feelings.

Even the capitulation on the part of the liberal organizers hinted at disrespect. While they were concerned about hurting the cops feelings, there is no evidence that they INCLUDED BLACK PEOPLE IN THE DISCUSSION  with them and the police.

Yet the Star Tribune quoted Pride officials as vowing “to continue listening to minority groups.”

Pride Executive Director Dot  Belstler ,said, “To our transgender and people of color communities, we will continue to respect your pain and angst by bridging the divide and continuing conversations on both sides of this issue, to ensure we consider alternatives that make each group feel comfortable and safe.”

Ironically the Pride parade came about as a way for the LGBTQ community to assert its right to exist, to assert its humanity and its right to be different. It was also partially organized as a push back against police harassment.

The Pride organizers should have stuck to their decision if they really meant what they said about recognizing the community’s pain, they would have stood on it. Their spinelessness will only encourage more police intransigence in the future.

Since Pride organizers say they are listening, they should know that oppressed communities don’t respect folks talking about “feeling” their pain, they respect folks who rather than talking about it, “be” about it! “Oppressed people learn early that the problem of life is not the problem of evil but the problem of good.”

Imagine that, the Twin Cities can’t have a parade without the cops (who Harteau calls fellow human beings) and in an open, just and democratic society!

justice then peace

Philando Castile case proves that this society is neither decent, democratic,or just; Its not fit for human subsistence

Philando protest after verdict

Let’s face it, the society that allowed an armed agent of the State to shoot a man for absolutely no good reason and then failed to punish the shooter, is the society we live in and not the one you think you live in that is decent, democratic and just and believes in “liberty and justice for all.”
The sooner folks face this fact the sooner we can move to some real concrete solutions.
The Minnesota House People of Color and Indigenous Caucus summed up the killing of Philando Castile as well as anybody when they said,”We continue to believe the killing of Philando was senseless, without cause, and veiled in unfounded racial fear and prejudice.” But they also said ,”urgent reform of our policing and criminal justice systems is needed.”
Unfortunately the legislators got it half right. The system of policing, this social/economic /political system cannot be reformed. It is resistant to reform because these systems exist as they are for a reason. It has to be torn up and tossed out and a new one has to be put in its place.
If someone or something continues to do something over and over again, it is who or what they are, police killings and police brutality occur too much for it to be an aberration, a so-called exception to the rule; it is the rule!
Just today In Milwaukee, a Black cop was just acquitted of murder, for shooting Syville Smith in the back in August 2016 and while he lay on the ground helpless, killing him. A few weeks ago a female Tulsa cop was acquitted of manslaughter and excused for killing unarmed Terence Crutcher, last September. On Sunday, a Black woman suffering from mental illness was shot in killed by Seattle police. This is no accident.
And the system supports the killing! It is codified in law, reinforced by the highest law in the land. And you can’t reform it because the lawmakers identify with and owe their careers to the rulers and not the person on the street.
The Yanez verdict coupled with the Tulsa and Milwaukee verdicts, reinforce the fact that police can not only kill you, but the law GIVES THEM THE RIGHT TO KILL YOU WITHOUT FEAR OF REPERCUSSIONS OR NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES.
That is the system we live under and not the fairy tale.
When Plilando Castile’s lottery number came up, he didn’t have a chance; in life nor death. Yes being Black and surviving in the US means you hope you don’t win the reverse lottery, in which the winners reward is loss of life, or well- being.
Philando tried to tell the armed agent of the State that he wasn’t reaching for his gun, but Yanez didn’t listen, rather he listened to the propaganda; spoken and unspoken, conscious and unconscious that suggests a “ni–er” with a gun should be dead.
Sounds harsh? Nobody has come up with a reasonable explanation for why Yanez shot Castile. There was no evidence that he saw a gun, in fact all the logical evidence at hand indicates that was an impossibility since Castile got shot in his trigger finger and Yanez said immediately after the shooting that he didn’t see a gun.
Yanez was guilty he was proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (I was there), yet he was acquitted. That was not justice by any measurable standard. In a decent, democratic and just society the cop would have had to pay for his actions.
If the juror Broussard who has talked to the press is to be believed ten folks POSING as decent, fair minded, human beings made their minds up only hours after the trial ended.
And people shouldn’t be surprised that the two Black jurors caved in right away and believed the cop, they too have been fed a constant diet of White Supremacy and the “serve and protect” lie.
Folks should rather acknowledge and applaud the courage of the two holdouts according to the juror who talked: two White people held out. It’s likely the hold out jurors were forced to concede on Friday (after judge William Leary said he was going to force them to come back on Monday), for financial reasons because most working people can’t afford to miss more than two weeks of work.
Yanez would have had to stand trial again without the interference of the supposedly upstanding biased and undemocratic judge Leary, in the case who forced the jurors to continue to deliberate, though it was obvious the thoroughly propagandized and insensitive majority weren’t budging. As Mr Broussard said he “believed” the officer saw a gun; despite all the evidence presented to the contrary.
And Yanez is a coward.
Yanez has been portrayed as a decent person, but he is anything but. A decent person would not have tried to blame Philando for his death. A good person would not in his BCA interview try to disparage Castile and make up a story about smelling marijuana. No one else on the scene smelled marijuana, his partner, nor any of the cops that showed up afterward said on the witness stand said they smelled marijuana. But he lied to protect himself.
If he was a decent person he would saved everyone all this grief and just admitted that he made a mistake. He could have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. The system would have slapped him on the wrist and he would have been hired by another cop agency. The Castile family and Diamond Reynolds could have gotten on with their lives, but instead he committed a kind of soul murder against them as his actions, denied them the peace the justice that so desperately need to heal.
Even the defense lawyers were indecent. Earl Gray and Tom Kelly (who would probably represent Lucifer, if the money was right) weren’t satisfied with their tainted victory but decided to rub it in. Gray cold-heartedly told the press that “Castile would be alive if he followed Yanez’s orders.”
The truth is Philando would be alive if he hadn’t been profiled. Yanez had no reason to stop him at all.
And after adding insult to injury with their unjust verdict, the defenders of this unjust system have the nerve to demand that we respect it and its show trial. What kind of decent society demands that you respect it after they have it has spit on you? People have no obligation to respect anything, anyone, any law, or any system that does not respect them.
This is the society we live in and the sooner we acknowledge the truth, the sooner we can begin the work of creating a just humane decent society fit for human beings.
justice then peace

Jeronimo Yanez trial in a nutshell: Yanez shot Philando Castille because he was a Black man with a gun

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On July 6 last year St Anthony policeman Jeronimo Yanez radioed to his partner that he thinks he spotted a suspect in a recent armed robbery. His only identifier, “cause he has a wide set nose.” After shooting Philando Castille he told the supervisor on the scene“I don’t know where it was.” Those two statements sum up this case as well as any after 10 days of trial.
It appears that Yanez stopped Castille as the prosecution police expert witness Jeffry Noble said, “because he was a Black man.” Noble said that Castille should not have been stopped because “a wide set nose is simply not a distinctive feature.” He also noted that a reasonable officer would not have shot Castille because he told him he had a firearm. Another way of putting it, is Castille is dead because he was profiled by the St Anthony cop and he broke the unwritten societal rule established and enforced since slavery that, if you are Black, thou shalt not have a gun, legal or illegal.
This was a gut wrenching 10 days as the mother of Philando Castille, Valerie Castille had to watch the video of the incident recorded by Yanez’s squad car several times, as well as view the autopsy of her son’s shot up body.
She heard the vaunted defense team of Earl Gray, Paul Enge and Tom Kelly callously say on two occasions that if Castille’s brake light was working he would still be alive and we wouldn’t be here. (Yes that was said twice I was there) the truth is had Yanez not profiled the deceased and chose to harass him, he would still be with us.
However Yanez had to listen to prospective jurors tell him to his face what they thought of his actions. A Black woman in her 40’s looked him in the eye and said he was “careless” with Philando’s life and that “no one should have to die as a result of a traffic stop.” A White guy said he thought he was guilty. A young White woman cried on the stand as she recalled how she has been given warnings when stopped by police and didn’t understand why Mr Castille had to die.
Needless to say no juror who had a bad experience with the police or had their doubts about the efficacy of law enforcement made the final cut, thus assuring that Yanez would have a jury decidedly “partial” to the system and the narrative of cops as those who serve and protect.
Ten Blacks were in the initial pool of 50 jurors and only two made the final cut. The defense challenged one of them, a young Black woman from Ethiopia who they said was too “incompetent” to sit on the jury.
That was laughable considering the make up of the jury which included several folks who said they hadn’t heard anything about this case and didn’t know much more about the justice system than what they had seen on TV. One woman lied hiding her decidedly pro-police views from the judge until the prosecution exposed her through her FaceBook posts, which she previously denied. She even revealed after hiding it initially that she was friends with the wife of a suburban Maplewood, MN cop who had been killed. The judge refused to strike her for cause. And the prosecution didn’t use one of its three strikes to unseat either.
The defense team must have said the word marijuana over 100 times as it sought to make the case that Castille was responsible for his own death because he was high, causing him to fail to comply with Yanez’s commands. But as the prosecution pointed out, Yanez didn’t really give any commands.
In fact several cops who testified, admitted that if they thought the gun was a threat they would have told Castille to put his hands up or on the steering wheel where they could see them.
The prosecution put on an able and competent, though somewhat dispassionate case despite being in unfamiliar territory of prosecuting one of its own.
When cross examining Yanez on the final day, it’s hard to imagine that they would have let some guy in dreadlocks and sagging pants continue on and on, rather than answering the questions yes or no as instructed. Yanez continued to explain the inconsistencies in his statements by saying he was under stress.
The marijuana argument didn’t withstand the scrutiny of prosecutors. It appeared the prosecution discredited the defense’s toxicologist who couldn’t say definitively after cross examination if Castille was high on marijuana, or when he got high. In his initial testimony he claimed that the THC level’s found in the deceased proved that he had gotten high two hours earlier. The prosecution pointed out that according to the science there was no way he could prove that. In closing argument the prosecution labeled the defense’s toxicologist a practitioner of “junk science.”
The defense’s gun expert was made to look foolish after he claimed that he had timed himself sitting in a car pulling a gun out of his pocket and that someone could pull a gun out in a third of a second, when the prosecution asked if he had conducted his experiment while seat belted as Castille had been, he admitted he wasn’t in a seat belt.
The defense failed to present evidence showing that Castille resembled the armed robbers of days previous, who had robbed a Super America at gun point. The only resemblance Castille bore to the robbers was his color and maybe his wide set nose since the vast majority of African Americans have wide noses compared to White Americans.
Despite some of the reports coming out of the corporate newspapers which unwittingly make Yanez appear credible, in actuality the prosecution exposed the fact that Yanez gave several contradictory and inconsistent, statements which he tried to cover up on the stand by saying he was under stress. This was made even clearer in the prosecution’s closing argument by Jeffrey Paulsen.
The prosecution pointed out that despite his later claims in his BCA testimony that he saw the barrel of a gun he oddly failed to tell Roseville officers when they showed up that Castille had a gun. It is common practice when cops shoot folks who have a gun to point that out but Yanez did not. Its likely he didn’t because he didn’t see a gun as he admitted to the supervisor on the scene.
Yanez explanation for this was almost comical he told prosecutors cross examining him that he, “didn’t see a gun until he saw one.”
Incidentally the discovery of the gun by law enforcement on the scene exposed what appeared to be duplicity and collusion in effort to make Yanez’s story appear credible. The Roseville cop who initiated CPR on the already dead victim, claimed that the gun fell out of the dead man’s pocket when paramedics turned him to put him on the board to put him into the ambulance. The cop said that the gun had been sticking out of Castille’s pocket. When he was cross examined the prosecutors asked, if the gun was sticking out of Castille’s pocket why didn’t he see it? His response was, he was concentrating on administering aide to Castille.
A firefighter on the scene claimed he heard a clank and then saw a gun. It was revealed in the trial that one of Yanez’s brothers is a local firefighter.
But an EMT took the stand and said the officers patted the dead man down and then dug “deep” in his pocket to get the gun. He repeated his story under questioning and every time he acknowledged that the officers dug deep in Castille’s pocket to retrieve the gun.
So this begs the question, how did Castille manage to pull out the gun get shot up and shove it back down into his pocket? If the gun was out why wasn’t there any blood on the gun. He was also shot in his right index finger his trigger finger which again makes Yanez story less credible how could he have pulled the gun without his trigger finger and why wasn’t there any marks on the gun? Because according to Yanez in his statement in court , the deceased pulled the gun out.
Diamond Reynolds came across as honest and forthright in her testimony, she consistently stated that Castille never reached for a gun. Yet defense attorney Earl Gray referred to her as a liar in his closing argument, because she said she was held for five hours without food and water and she couldn’t remember being given $40 for groceries which had been confiscated for evidence.
However this writer and other activists on the night of the shooting are aware that she was held against her will for several hours because we recruited two local attorneys to represent her. Both tried for hours to locate her and were told different stories about her where she was being held by St. Anthony and Roseville police in a thinly veiled attempt by law enforcement to prevent her from securing legal protection.
By his own admission (and it can be heard on the video) Yanez says “Don’t pull it out”he didn’t yell, put it down, which would have made more sense had the victim actually pulled the gun. And Yanez can be heard on the police video yelling again after Castille is dying from the bullet wounds to the heart, “don’t pull it out as if he was doing it for posterity’s sake.
The closing argument by prosecuting attorney Paulsen appeared ironclad. According to him, “Yanez was the only one in this entire case who says Castile pulled a gun from his pocket.” He also reiterated that while the defense claimed that Castille was intoxicated, almost as if to say he was drunk and therefore wasn’t listening, it was Yanez who wasn’t listening and admitted that after hearing “weapon” he developed “tunnel vision,” and was getting nervous.
Paulsen’s also responded in his closing arguments to Yanez claim that he was nervous, “Everyone on both sides of this case agrees,” Paulsen said, “that being nervous is not a reason to shoot and kill someone.”
The prosecution in my opinion made its case. We will find out in a matter of hours or days, if the jury can overcome stereotypes about Black people and Black life along with how well US propaganda about the role and duties of police in US society has made its case despite evidence to the contrary.
justice then peace