The final verdict concerning the shooting of 32 year old Philando Castile has allowed a murderer to walk free. Dashcam footage revealing the tragic events before Castile was shot shows the officer pulling Castile over, and then proceeding to fire multiple shots into Castile's chest, and then dragging his lifeless body out of the car, all in front of his girlfriend and daughter.
The acquittal is one of many across the US, resulting in the death of an innocent black man, and the continuation of a racism taught and institutionalized by leaders of this country. The shooting of Philando Castile was one of many, leading to the inevitable desensitization of black men and women shot by law enforcement. The public has seen these events before. For some, each event becomes that much more infuriating. However, for others, it is simply an event in a world of violence and destruction.
We are not at war with Philando's killer. We are at war with a system that breeds and encourages the perpetuation of racism within our institutions. Letting his killer go free ensures the continuation of this institutionalized racism. When slavery became illegal, racism shifted to the institutions unaffected by the law, thus creating the Jim Crow Laws. When segregation became illegal, racism shifted to the institutions born to protect the wellbeing of its citizens. Since then, racism has lived and flourished within the law enforcement and judicial systems we surround ourselves with everyday.
This event does not teach us that bad men walk away free. It teaches us that though racism may not be visible, and though it is so vehemently denied, it exists. It exists in the systems put in place to keep us safe. Hundreds of years of discriminatory and racist attitudes could never be expected to simply disappear with the presence of some new legislation condemning it. Racism simply camouflaged itself at the expense of African Americans.
Philando Castile was innocent. He was pulled over by a man holding bias against the Black Lives Matter movement, and shot. Philando Castile's murderer was not met with any consequences following Castile's death. He instead was met with the consolation of his coworkers, as if this event affected Castile's murderer more than Castile himself.
With every unwarranted death, and every shocking acquittal, we see more and more products of this institutionalized racism continue to spread their influence. We see people like Castile's killer continuing to teach and perpetuate the same racism instilled within himself. Without justice for the victims of these shootings, the products of a racist system will continue to spread, encourage, recruit and teach. Without justice, we are paving the road for a future in which these shootings become more commonplace, and in which racism within institutions becomes more widely ignored, and more subtly accepted.