In an 8-2 vote on Thursday, the Minnesota peace officer training board declined to name a police training fund after Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man shot and killed by police last year for ... driving while black.
As reported by The Root, on the one-year anniversary of Castile’s shooting death at the hands of former St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recommended that the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Board be named after Castile. Castile’s family was in full support of the measure.
Dayton named Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, to the POST board. Castile is one of only two public members on the board—the same two who voted for the name change. The rest of the POST board is largely made up of law enforcement officers or affiliated with law enforcement in some way.
The $12 million trust, approved by the Minnesota Legislature earlier this year, was funded to provide training opportunities for police working in diverse communities through 2021, emphasizing “crisis intervention and mental illness crises; conflict management and mediation and recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural differences to include implicit bias training,” according to the Pioneer Press.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, testified before the board that the fund could be named after any number of “fallen” police officers.
“My position was we’ve had 243 officers in the state of Minnesota that have been killed in the line of duty, and we’ve never named a bill after them,” Kroll told HuffPost. “Why would we name it after a person that, in the end, was shot by police and the shooting was ruled to be justifiable?”
However, Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, said after the decision that her son did not receive justice—not on Thursday with the board vote and not when Yanez was acquitted in his shooting death.
“The system failed us, and now all we ask is for this training bill to be named after my son because of the manner that he was killed,” she said. “This is for everyone. This is not about my son anymore. This is about humanity. This is how you treat our human beings? You just gun them down like that and it’s OK? It’s not OK. … My son deserves that training bill to be named after him.”
The Pioneer Press reports that the POST board received two messages that expressed support for naming the fund after Castile and 31 messages from people in opposition. However, community members said too few people knew about the decision and requested that the board delay its vote to make time for more public input. That was voted down as well.
Almost all the messages in opposition were from current or retired officers and law enforcement organizations. People expressed concerns that naming the fund for Castile would polarize law enforcement and said they were reluctant to make “a hero out of someone with drugs in his system.”
Wow. This man was pulled over for no reason, was calm, reasonable and compliant, and yet he was still shot in his chest and left to die in front of a 4-year-old child. And to add insult to injury, police are basically implying that he was a drug abuser for weed—which is legal in many states.
John Thompson, a friend of Castile’s, also addressed the board last week and expressed what many feel when the “blue wall” of bullshit closes ranks.
“Every time you have a mishap, you ask the community to trust you,” said Thompson. “We didn’t break the trust with you guys, and you’re constantly throwing your dukes up and defending these officers. … You’re not sorry, nor do you want to move forward. You want to keep going as business as usual.”