Philando Castile's death has outraged and shocked a community and a nation. Even the governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, asked, "Would this have happened if the passengers were white? I don't think it would have." Now evidence is coming to light that proves that Castile was indeed a victim of racism, with an astounding 31 traffic stops, resulting in 63 separate misdemeanor charges and Castile being found guilty of 43 of them.
The offenses included speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, driving after revocation, no proof of insurance, improper display of original plate and parking violations. Outside of the minor traffic offenses Castile had no criminal record, but these records show that the police of Ramsey County — the county within which St. Anthony Police Department lies — had something of a personal vendetta against Castile himself.
Victims have come forward to say that they believe Castile was a victim of racial profiling. His cousin Damion Pickett told DailyMail, "He was stopped because they [local police] think every African-American does crime but it doesn't happen like that." Pickett added, "He was a good guy and looked after his kid, he was a hardwoking man."
Pickett's twin sister, Angelic Pickett, praised Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who live streamed the video of Castile's death, which helped put the story on the national stage. "I take my hat off to his girlfriend," she said. "If she didn't record that, what would the outcome be? They would have taken the cop's word because he's [Castile] not here."
There was already little doubt that Castile's death was completely unwarranted, but the lengthy rap sheet for minor traffic violations will surely raise questions over whether police in Minnesota are targeting the Black community.
Even Reynolds believes the stop that lead to the death of Castile was a sham. She insisted that the police had stopped them for a busted tail light that wasn't even broken. "The police did this to us," she said. "The police killed him in front of my daughter. The police did this to me. They took an innocent man away from us."
(Photos from top: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images, Philando Castile via Facebook)