No Justice for Philando Castile: CBTU President Statement on the Acquittal of Philando Castile’s Murderer
Statement by Rev. Terrence L. Melvin
President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
On Friday, June 16, justice was not served again, as the officer in the shooting death of Philando
Castile was found not-guilty. This pattern of injustice would reach comedic heights if not for the
bodies buried as a punchline. The justice system has sent a message that under any conditions an
officer can murder a black person with zero reprisal, zero accountability, and zero punishment. This
verdict maintains the precedent that in relationship to other races, Black Lives Do Not Matter.
Many people will point out that the officer in question was Latino and therefore race has nothing to do
with this case, but that is a narrow and rather naive approach to the conversation. The race of the
officer matters not in these cases, what matters are the victims and the system perpetuating the
violence. Systemic racism is where we find our most oppressive systems memorialized in institutions.
While the race of officers may vary, the fact that all officers are empowered and encouraged to enact
violent justice on Blacks means that the system is the racial aggravator not the individual. Any officer
of any race can be lured into the practice of racial injustice by their commanders, the protocols they
are forced to follow, and the environment they work in. It could have been a Black officer who shot
Philando and this would still be a case of racism. That is because the American justice system and
our police institutions promote and propagate this racial inequity.
Police Officers need to address the system they work under. When we have a racist household, we
can always assume the children will grow up to be racist too. Such is the same with systemic racism.
Any person who becomes an officer is indoctrinated in a racist system that encourages the
mistreatment of Blacks. The trainers care not of the race of the trainees as long as protocol was
followed. And, the protocol is to kill a Black person and suffer no consequence.
With ample videos, and witnesses, and statements available it seemed like Philando and his family
would be the rare case that received justice. Once again, we were fooled to believe that even in overt
cases we could achieve some vindication. We have once again been taught a different lesson. And
just like how a racist household raises racist kids, homes fearful of police will raise children distrustful
of officers. We are breeding racists who in turn are creating anarchists, as our communities no longer
trust law and order and seek solutions outside the parameters of a system designed to oppress them.
Philando will not get justice from a crooked system, but his legacy will empower a generation to fight
back. I am worried, for as JFK once said: “Those that make people revolution impossible, make
violent revolution inevitable.” I hope the system can change peacefully before others force it to
change violently. The violence must stop, but it has to start first with them not killing us. Then and
only then can we begin to fix it properly.