Philando Castile’s Death Still Haunts Black People

One year after Philando Castile’s death, 4 Black Christian leaders share why it still chases them.

It’s been one year since Philando Castile‘s murder but his story is still fresh in our memory.

“The death of Philando Castile is a tragedy for his family and for our community,” read the joint statement by the city and Castile family. “No amount of money could ever replace Philando… The family will continue to deal with their loss through the important work of the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.”

“I assumed that footage of a precious girl in pain would move even the hardest heart. I was wrong. Some people were so caught up in who was right or wrong that they couldn’t connect with the cries of a child. I don’t know what we can learn from an injustice like this, but I know how we can respond. Coming together in empathy and compassion is not an option—it’s something we must do,” a speaker and writer based in Connecticut, Christina Marie Bennett implores.

“We argue about #BlackLivesMatter, #PoliceLivesMatter, and #AllLivesMatter, but beyond the social media fights lies a needed truth. We are all human and we should all be able to look at the footage of that sweet girl asking for a safer world and weep. Along with our tears of grief, we must act by works of justice to make that child’s request a reality.”

“Evangelical Christians should not entertain excuses as to why compliant, non-threatening civilians ‘deserve’ to die in encounters with inept police officers. If a jury’s refusal to hold a cop accountable for taking a man’s life and endangering an unarmed woman and child does not alarm you, then you are fast asleep,” a religion reporter in New York City, Nicola Menzie states.“It is a travesty Philando Castile’s life was taken in such a way; a travesty his mother is expected to console herself with money; and a travesty a child is forever scarred by witnessing a cop shoot a man to death.”

“This tragedy can drive a bigger wedge between us,” Will Ford, an author and teacher who co-leads a church in the Dallas area cautions. “We struggle with many questions: was Castile reaching for his gun or for his wallet? With the way the law is written, if Yanez feels he’s being threatened does he have the right to shoot? All those things come into play. But we can’t see inside that vehicle. And we can get consumed with this case in a way that’s going to bring more division.”

“One Scripture passage has become my playbook for all this,” says Ford. “It’s Second Timothy chapter two, which says in part: ‘The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition…’ As a Christian, I embrace being a bondservant of God—not a bondservant of either the conservatives or the liberals. We are going to be held accountable, that we respond differently than the world.”

“There is a risk whenever anyone speaks in less-than-glowing terms about a split-second decision a law enforcement officer makes. It’s even riskier for a person of color to do so. The truth is, I am afraid. In this day and age, actual persecution on American soil is more likely than it has been for decades for people who look like my kids and me. Surely the fear and intimidation I’m experiencing hinders the cause of Christ,” one published author, a mother of three sons confesses.

“Though I would never write anything harsh, because of my color I’d better be extra careful. After all, it’s no exaggeration that I could be shot, in my car, buckled in, with my kid there, totally complying with the officer’s request, with two different video clips of the encounter, no alcohol, no police record… and still, the officer who shot me would be found ‘not guilty.’ This makes people like me want to shut up and stay out of it as much as humanly possible.”

 

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