“The victim did everything right, everything he was supposed to do. The victim was very respectful, very polite, letting the officer know what he was doing. None of that made a difference.” — Paul Butler, law professor at Georgetown University and former federal prosecutor
This quote is taken from a New York Times article in which experts on the law weigh in on the dashcam video of Philando Castile's murder. Castile was killed in his car after being stopped for an alleged traffic violation, having given the officer a heads up that he had a legal firearm in the vehicle. His case caught national attention when his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, posted a video of the incident to Facebook Live.
The experts were pretty much unanimous in their assessment: Jeronimo Yanez, the officer involved, broke numerous protocols, and Castile did everything he was "supposed" to do. Still, Castile is dead, Yanez was acquitted, and some are arguing that the New York Times' post-acquittal publishing of the dashcam video, and even these expert statements, is little more than a slap in the face.
By Hari Ziyad*, AFROPUNK Writer
You see, Black folks don't need experts or video to tell us that nothing we do makes a difference when police decide to kill us. Aiyana Stanley-Jones was seven years old and asleep on a couch when her police officer murderer barged in while filming a reality show and shot her to death. He was still acquitted. The fact that law enforcement is state-sanctioned to take Black lives doesn't get much clearer than that.
And yet, we still pay for them to surveil, police, imprison, and murder us, even though they have made it repeatedly clear that they are in opposition to Black lives mattering. According to The HuffingtonPost, the average American pays $101.4 a year on things like policing, border security and immigration enforcement.
So, if Black people can be killed by the police with impunity, and those police continue to kill us with no redress, we're pretty much just paying for our own oppression.
So why are there still some who don't understand arguments against abolishing the police?
Banner photo via Star Tribune
*Hari Ziyad is a New York based storyteller and writer for AFROPUNK. They are also the editor-in-chief of RaceBaitR, deputy editor of Black Youth Project, and assistant editor of Vinyl Poetry & Prose. You can follow them on Twitter @hariziyad.