Prominent black NRA defender criticizes ruling in Philando Castile case

From The Guardian UK:

Colion Noir says Friday ruling that police officer Jeronimo Yanez would not be charged in the death of Castile is ‘just wrong’ and ‘covert racism is a real thing’

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Two days after Philando Castile was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop, the National Rifle Association issued a statement.

Castile’s death was “troubling”, the group said, adding that it supported the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms, no matter their race. “Rest assured,” the statement added, “the NRA will have more to say once all the facts are known.”

On Friday in St Paul, Minnesota, close to a year on, the police officer Jeronimo Yanez was cleared of all charges in the death of Castile, a beloved elementary school cafeteria worker who had a permit for the firearm he was carrying when he died. There were protests in St Paul. The NRA remained silent.

However, the group’s most prominent black commentator, Colion Noir, is speaking out about the decision.

“Yanez walking away from this case a free and clear man is just wrong,” Noir wrote in an impassioned online post on Sunday. Though he despised “race-baiting”, Noir wrote, “covert racism is a real thing and is very dangerous.

“Philando Castile should be alive today. I don’t feel [Yanez] woke up that day wanting to shoot a black person. However, I keep asking myself, would he have done the same thing if Philando were white?”

On Monday, Noir – who works under a pseudonym and requested his real name, though widely reported, not be used – was filming for his NRA News television show in Utah. In a phone interview, he said Castile’s death had touched him deeply. But he said he was speaking only for himself, not as a spokesman for the NRA or its leadership.

As a lawyer, Noir said, he understood why it was difficult to secure a manslaughter conviction in the Castile case. But as a young black man, he was outraged.

“It’s not a clear-cut case,” he said. “It’s not. [But] Yanez made mistakes that cost someone their life, period, and he didn’t take the steps necessary to prevent that.”

When Castile was killed, Noir said, he was 32 – the same age as Noir at the time.

“I had just gotten pulled over about a week prior,” he said, “the exact same way he had. It was almost eerie how similar, you know, the situation was … how easily that could have been me.”

In his online post, Noir wrote that while accusations of racism can be overplayed, there is a “problem with some people in this country dismissing racism wholesale when it isn’t overt racial slurs or crosses burning on front lawns”.

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