Jeronimo Yanez has been found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile at a traffic stop in St. Paul last July. This decision, one of many in which police officers have been acquitted for killing black men, rings out as an example of the failures of a political and judicial system that upholds whiteness and minimizes police accountability.
Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, know it. “The
system continues to fail black people,” she
declared in a press conference today, “and it will
continue to fail you all.”
addition to emphasizing our societal responsibility to fight
anti-blackness and racial profiling in America, Yanez’s acquittal,
and the acquittals of many others, reminds us that police
violence is a feminist issue—one which hurts and marginalizes
killings of young black men not only hurt black women and
themselves are also assaulted and killed by police officers,
cases which often go unreported. According to The Washington Post, 11
black women were shot and killed by police in 2016. Since 1999, 20
percent of unarmed people killed by police were black women. When
it comes to black women being killed at the hands of police
brutality, many are not given the attention and outrage they deserve.
even outside of these cases of direct violence, police brutality also
limits black women’s reproductive rights. Ensuring that women are
not afraid that their children will be killed is a fundamental
factor in reproductive justice—and one that cannot be promised
to black mothers.
mother, Valerie, has been vocal about the injustice of the ruling and
how it is symptomatic of the systemic racism that leaves so many
black people without justice. And although this case is unique in
that Yanez is a Latino man of color, and the attorney who decided to
charge Yanez, John Choi, is a Korean-American, the prevalence of
ultimately acquitted white police officers undergoing trials with
white prosecutors and judges leaves all police officers as
beneficiaries in an unjust system of power. In Yanez’s case, the
jury that acquitted him was comprised of two black people and
10 white people.
wives and children inevitably become entwined in these killings as
well. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, filmed the incident
through Facebook Live after Castile was shot five times, and the
video played a crucial role in inciting immediate outrage and in the
trial itself. Reynolds’s four-year-old daughter was sitting in the
back seat. Last August, Korryn
Gaines was killed and her five-year-old son was shot by
police raiding her apartment on an outstanding traffic charge. In
2010, seven-year-old Aiyana
Jones was shot to death by police raiding her home searching
for her aunt’s boyfriend, murder suspect Chauncey Owens.
justice, threatened motherhood and violence against women and
children all come into play in the complex aftermath of racial
profiling and police brutality, and these injustices are only
exacerbated by how little coverage and dialogue these issues receive.
And it is exactly these systemic failures—past, present and
future—that should stir us to examine
these intersections and support black women when the system
>> The article above was written by Madeline King, and is reprinted from Ms Magazine.