On Tuesday, mere days after a jury acquitted the police officer who shot and killed a black civilian after pulling him over for a broken brake light, new dashcam footage of Philando Castile's shooting was released. The graphic video confirms many of the reported details of the shooting: Castile did voluntarily inform Officer Jeronimo Yanez that he had a firearm on him. Castile did say that he was not reaching for his gun right before Yanez shot him. The video is all over the internet but, assuming that you're already aware of the ways in which the system fails black victims like Castile, and are outraged at this miscarriage of justice, you shouldn't watch the footage. Instead of watching an innocent man die for no reason, say his name.
As defenders of Yanez's actions scramble to rationalize why the officer fired seven bullets into the car, celebrate Castile's life. Castile was a cafeteria supervisor at a school in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to colleagues and friends, Castile was beloved by the children at his school. He memorized the names of all 500 kids he served each day, along with their food allergies. Although his official title didn't say so, one coworker asserted to Time that Castile taught students as much as "any teacher in that building," showing the kids the importance of respect, and bringing a new calmness to the cafeteria.
And as many in the country reel from the upsetting (and unfortunately, not entirely shocking) verdict, work to change the system that meant Castile died far too soon, while the man who shot him managed to avoid conviction on any charges. Support your local chapter of Black Lives Matter. Advocate for criminal justice and police reform.
The news has been filled too frequently with stories of black men and women who became victims of excessive force. Most recently, Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four, was shot and killed by police who came to her home after she reported a burglary, while her children were in the apartment with her. She joins a long list of victims of police brutality, whose lives were stolen away from them. Walter Scott. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Jordan Edwards. The names keep going, on and on.
The newly-released dashcam footage only shows, graphically, what so many already know — that the system needs to change, and soon. And though the events that transpire in the footage are what brought Castile to national attention, he was so much more than his final moments.