By Mike Essien, MABL President –
The Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) is extremely concerned and troubled by the Wednesday evening (July 6) killing of Philando Castile, a Black man, by a St. Anthony police officer during a seemingly routine traffic stop. Somehow, it escalated to him being shot and killed. The live-streamed video is very disturbing. How was Philando Castile expected to provide his license if he could not reach into his pocket?
It is known that once a life of a citizen is taken, reactions serve little to restore families and loved ones. After each shooting, the community is left to protest and agitate, but lives are still lost, families are left behind to grieve, and the community remains traumatized.
In Minnesota, our community is still reeling from the killing of Jamar Clark last November, only eight months ago. MABL cannot help but remain extremely concerned that our citizens are dying in the hands of the very law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect them.
Whether these incessant killings are a result of poor training, lack of willingness to deescalate situations, or other causes, MABL demands — in the strongest of terms — for our leaders (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) to do all in their capacities to stop the needless deaths of Black Minnesotans.
From all indications, Philando Castile reported to officers that he had a permit to carry a firearm. Although we do not have all of the details, and facts may change during this stage of uncertainty, we demand an independent investigation by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into this shooting.
In response to this shooting, only immediate action by the appropriate authorities will keep peace in our community. The community deserves swift action to ensure that this killing does not suffer from what has become the norm when white police officers kill Black citizens, such as scapegoating, confusion of the issues, and oftentimes desensitized comments and responses. MABL appreciates and supports the call by Governor Dayton for the Department of Justice to be involved in this case.