In the aftermath of Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez being acquitted by a Minnesota jury for the shooting death of Philando Castile, social media lit up with condemnation. Given the evidence known to the public, the outrage is entirely justified.
On July 6, 2016, Castile was pulled over by Officer Yanez. After Castile provided the officer with his proof of insurance, he said: “Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me.” Castile had a CCW. Yanez then told Castile not to reach for his weapon, and as Castile instead reached for his ID, according to reports, Yanez shot him seven times.
As previously mentioned, with the understanding that there may be evidence of which the public is unaware, this was, as National Review’s David French noted, a “miscarriage of justice.” Unfortunately, the social media backlash has revived the long-discredited narrative that Michael Brown was a victim in the vein of Philando Castile:
“We want justice for Philando Castile. And we didn’t forget about Mike Brown.” #BlackLivesMatter
— Women’s March CT (@womensmarchct) June 17, 2017
— K.R. Pepper (@katt_pepper) June 13, 2017
Officer cleared in death of Philando Castile.
No one charged in Michael Brown’s death.
No charges in Alton Sterling killing.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) June 16, 2017
Senseless murders that have hurt my heart & forever changed my views
— Goodtroubl3 (@iBiteiStrike) June 17, 2017
Forensic evidence and extensive witness cross-examination proved that Michael Brown was not the “gentle giant” the media made him out to be. He was not surrendering with his hands in the air. In fact, he robbed a convenience store, assaulted an employee, and in his subsequent altercation with Officer Darren Wilson, he attempted to take the officer’s firearm.
Philando Castile is not Michael Brown, and drawing a line between them delegitimizes the outrage over the Yanez verdict.
Like equating the Brock Turner rape case with the Rolling Stone UVA rape hoax, connecting Philando Castile and Michael Brown is an egregious false equivalency that undermines real victims.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this situation is that many people who are making the connection between Castile and Brown are sincerely ignorant. They don’t know that Michael Brown of “hands up, don’t shoot” fame was not the victim many in the media claimed he was.
When dealing with and debating sensitive issues, it is incredibly important that we, as Americans, present the facts as they are, that we are accurate and above reproach, that we take the time to separate truth from fiction.
If we fail to do these things, we will also fail to see the real problems; if we fail see the real problems clearly because we are blinded by the dust we’ve kicked up, we cannot come to a solution; and if we cannot come to a solution, men like Philando Castile will have died in vain.