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Columnist Godfrey Mpetey shares his thoughts on the Philando Castile trial in light of the anniversary of the fatal shooting.

By Godfrey Mpetey

As our nation celebrated the Independence of the land comprised of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, my heart weighs heavy as two days later, today, marks the anniversary of Philando Castile’s death.

On July 6, 2016, Castile was pulled over in Falcon Heights, Minnesota by St. Anthony police officer Jeromino Yanez. According to court documents published by the Washington Post, Castile fit the description of a robbery suspect from three days prior.

Yanez approached the vehicle which carried Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, and her 4-year old daughter. Yanez made the driver aware of his broken brake light and asked for license and registration. After handing Yanez his information, Castile told Yanez he had a firearm. Without hesitation, Yanez told him to not reach for his weapon. Within five seconds of his first demand, Yanez fired seven shots into the driver seat, killing Castile.

After the shooting, Yanez told investigators the events leading up to the shooting that night.

“I thought I was gonna die,” he said.

Throughout the case, Yanez hammered his belief of Castile’s weapon and whether he had seen it or not. However, his fear of the inevitable caused him to take action. What is troubling was his “sort-of” justification for his action.

“And I thought if he, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the 5-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me.”

Fear has been utilized as a tool for justification. If you were fearful, immediately, your emotions are upheld.

Fear doesn’t ask questions. Fear doesn’t need reason. Fear doesn’t have purpose. Godfrey Mpetey

The fear of the superior and majority (politicians, officers) are held to a high degree. In those positions, they have the ability to shape how our communities and society sways. They also have the power to oppress and dismantle.

Fear doesn’t ask questions. Fear doesn’t need reason. Fear doesn’t have purpose.

On June 16, Officer Yanez was found not guilty on all counts, including manslaughter.

Fear did its job. The system, established by liberty and justice for some, did its job.

What’s problematic is I’ve built an immunity to injustice. In 2012, the killing of Trayvon Martin from the hands of George Zimmerman. In 2014, Cleveland police officers shooting 12-year old Tamir Rice. And 2016, less than 24 hours before the death of Castile, the shooting of Alton Sterling as two police officers pressed themselves on top of him.

Society has an irrational fear of black men. The fear of blacks, deemed as violent criminals, seek to justify their murders.

Fear killed Philando Castile. Fear killed Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling and too many others.  

Fear allows systems of injustice to remain prominent, disregarding the lives of those who hold little power. Acting through fear creates irrational results, which these human being are the subject of.

When fear becomes our purpose and motive, it blurs your sense of rational thinking. Godfrey Mpetey

Fear isn’t solely skin-deep; it’s engulfed our society. Politics is based on the use of rhetoric to generate fear. One may say fear drove millions of American citizens to elect Donald J. Trump into office.

Fear of progressive-ideology? Fear of conservative values diminishing? Regardless, The Don had to paint the picture of “violent, savage rapist” coming into our country in order to lay the bricks on his ‘wall’.

We are all riddled with fear. It’s our human nature. However, when fear becomes our purpose and motive, it blurs your sense of rational thinking.

Looking in the mirror, I see Philando. I see Trayvon. I see Tamir. Godfrey Mpetey

Our nation must dismantle fear-mongering as a tool of garnering the minds of their people. It has done much more damage than good.

To Philando Castile and his family, I mourn you and your image is forever ingrained in my memory.

Looking in the mirror, I see Philando. I see Trayvon. I see Tamir.

Because of my skin, I may strike the same fear officer Yanez had the night of Castile’s killing.

Continuing forward, I pray my work on Earth allows me to walk humbly and proudly as an African American male within a system set for me to fail. Without fear.

Your fear is irrational and unconscious of our lives.

Fear kills.


  1. People have good reason to be leary of groups who have high crime rates. Maybe part of the problem is culture, and part is poor child rearing. One thing is certain, Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown received lawful justice. In both cases their parents have not, at least not yet.

  2. All of the killings you mentioned, while tragic, were justified. Martin jumped Zimmerman and bashed his head into the sidewalk before being shot, Rice was wielding what looked like a firearm in public, Sterling and Castile both appeared to be reaching for firearms. Fear didn’t kill them, bad decisions did.

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