Philando Castile is a black man whose name became yet another #RIP hashtag due to his senseless murder at the hands of a police officer.
In an interview back in November 2016 when his murderer was charged with manslaughter and dangerous discharge of a firearm, Philado’s mom said that she felt that this was the “beginning to a different chapter”. Unfortunately, her feeling was wrong. I can understand the hope that she had in Philando’s case since the murderers of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and others, were not even charged. Unfortunately, Jeronimo Yanez’s acquittal of all charges associated with the murder of Philando Castile proves that this may be a different story, but it’s the same chapter.
News of the monetary settlement that Philando Castile’s mother reached with St. Anthony, Minnesota was released today. In the case of senselessly taking a black life, reparation without reprimand is permission for the culprit’s behavior to continue. If a child continues to knock down glass fixtures in public, and the parents simply pay what they assume reasonably covers damages, but never punish the child for the behavior, the child has no stimulant to modify his behavior. In the same way, if settlements are given to black families whose loved ones are murdered by police officers, yet no punishment is given, there is no stimulant for this behavior to change! The storyline is all too familiar: claim a sense of danger caused by an encounter with blackness, and be innocent of the crime of taking a life.
HOW MUCH MONEY IS A BLACK LIFE WORTH? Can the pain and suffering that the Castile family has and will experience be replaced a dollar amount like a glass fixture? I think not! $2.995 million, nor any other amount of money, can pay for the plucking of a life from this world. The value of life cannot be monetarily quantified. The human race and the black community lost a brother, and the best “the system” can do in the name of justice is another settlement?
I’m sickened that the justice system in the United States can acknowledge that this death is wrong (to the tune of a $3 million dollar settlement), yet not consider it criminal enough for conviction. It’s a damned shame on American culture, and the overvaluation of the dollar and the undervaluation of black life. This further communicates the message that the taking of a black life, though irritable, is not punishable.
As a human being, this hurts.
As a black man, this hurts.
As a Christian, this hurts.
As an American, this hurts.
As I write this blog, my 2nd mom is traveling and her dog (Rosie -Shih Tzu) is in my care. I am accountable to her for the well-being of her dog when she returns. If my negligence is cause for Rosie’s untimely death, there’s going to be a major problem. I have one question: Who is accountable for the murder of Philando Castile? Apparently, no one is. I wish I could conclude this blog with some profound instruction or theological nugget to take from this, yet in this moment, I hurt. I grieve. I mourn. Again. In Philando’s memory, I reflect on his life and that no amount of money could replace him. This sort of justice does not adequately respond to the loss of this life.
Yet, I hope anyway. Certainly not in the justice system. And not even in my fellow-man. My hope is in the God who delivered the children of Israel from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh.
May hope be our fuel for the effectual, fervent work that is ahead.