Philando Castile's Girlfriend Is A Hero For Capturing That Video
After a Minnesota policeman shot Philando Castile, his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds began live-streaming the disturbing scene from her cellphone to Facebook. The video has continued to circulate via the news media and Twitter, causing a stir among some who believe Reynolds was using her phone at an inappropriate moment. If she hadn't thought to press "record," however, those same people would have doubted her account of what happened. The pair was pulled over due to a broken taillight. Castile was shot after letting the policeman know he had a license to carry his firearm. The car was surrounded by several policemen with guns pointed toward it. Reynolds was forced to the ground and handcuffed, and her four-year-old daughter tried to comfort her from the back seat of a police car. Her ability to document the aftermath and remain calm was nothing short of heroic.
Policemen exist to protect the public, but Reynolds was forced to turn to the public for protection against the police. Throughout the first several minutes of the video, Reynolds remains relatively calm, even though she's unaware of Castile's condition and in handcuffs. Having witnessed her boyfriend being shot in front of her four-year-old daughter, she sticks to the facts and, amazingly, resists emotion. Only in the last minute or two does she become distressed. We hear her daughter attempting to comfort her. "It's okay mommy," she says. "It's okay, I'm right here with you."
It's entirely heartbreaking, and that's why people need to watch this. Her video provides evidence, but it also forces the public — especially those who aren't subjected to discrimination because of the color of their skin or the neighborhood they live in — to put themselves in Reynolds' shoes.
The next morning, Reynolds spoke with reporters in Falcon Heights, Minnesota and demanded change. She said that what happened was "not acceptable, not OK, and will not be tolerated."
I never got to say my last words. No one deserves this. I have not been able to sleep. I have not been able to eat. I have not been able to work.
On Wednesday evening, Castile died. The night before that, two policemen killed Alton Sterling. The list stretches back years: Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray were all unarmed when they were shot by police. Their cases drew mass public attention, but there are many others, too.
Reynolds' video collectively puts each of them into perspective and shows, most frighteningly, that documentation is necessary for protection.
Image: 11 Alive/screenshot, Diamond Reynolds/Facebook