Philando Castile Deserves Justice. We All Do.

By Tony Webster (SPPD – Black Lives Matter March) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

At this point, we all knew this was going to happen. Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were killed within 24 hours of each other. After the officer who shot Sterling did not receive any federal charges, I knew the same would happen with Castile’s murderer. This overwhelming fact remains true: black lives do not matter in America. The system isn’t broken. It isn’t flawed. It doesn’t need a few tweaks to rectify what should be a fair and balanced approach to justice. The system is running exactly as it should. It is designed to safeguard those in power and place a boot on the neck of the powerless.

The shield that every police officer wears on their uniform, inscribed with the words, “Protect and Serve,” is doing exactly that. It is protecting and serving corruption, racism, and brutality. This is overwhelmingly, irrefutably clear. A few good cops doesn’t change that policing as a whole is corrupt. It doesn’t change that when someone puts on that uniform and is endowed with the license to kill, that a black life is still just 3/5ths of a cop’s life.

Prior to graduating with my master’s degree, the last time I wept was after Castile and Sterling were murdered. They happened back to back and were graphically captured on camera. Though both Sterling and Castile’s deaths were horrific, Castile’s death got to me a little more. He was killed right in front of his girlfriend and their 4 year-old daughter. Even after she witnessed the vicious killing of her father, the child tried to comfort her mother. And despite this scene—despite Castile bleeding out in the driver’s seat of his car and his girlfriend forcing herself to remain calm while the officer kept his gun trained on her—despite all this being captured on camera and uploaded to Facebook Live, the officer was acquitted.

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Like the Reverend MLK, I believe in God, Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and in the afterlife. I believe that there is a place of eternal torment for the corrupt and evil just as I believe there is a place of eternal joy awaiting those who live righteously. Even though I believe there is a special place in hell for the officers who kill us and get away with it, I do not feel comforted by this. The teachings of Christ commands me to love radically, which means loving my enemies and praying that they turn from their unjust ways and allow themselves to be redeemed. And I do. I don’t take joy in the thought that those who live in darkness will be punished eternally. I’d rather they see the light before it’s too late.

Even more than I love my enemies, I love my people. Because I love my people, I weep for our suffering. I weep like Jesus wept, even as he knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. I weep even though I believe in the day when God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more suffering for the innocent. I weep even though I believe, like MLK, that the moral arc of the universe is long and veers towards righteousness. I weep even though I believe that Castile, Sterling, and the many others who have been unjustly killed are residing with God in heaven. I weep so that I don’t grow numb. I weep because black lives matter to me, and I believe without a doubt our lives matter to God. I weep because we deserve justice.

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