Perspective: Philando Castile

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I was listening to the news while watching my twitter feed. Someone posted the link to Diamond Reynolds live stream. She had ended the stream probably 30 minutes prior. This video is very raw and disturbing. Philando Castile, his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old were detained by police, and during that traffic stop Philando was shot by the police. Diamond starts live streaming the situation on Facebook. She’s asked to get out of the car, handcuffed and placed in the back of the police car. I watched this video holding my chest in disbelief until her daughter tells her “It’s OK mom, I’m here with you”. I totally lost it. I could not stop crying.

At that point I figured that Philando was on his way to the hospital, so I started praying for the Lord to be with him. I kept trying to find updates online to see if he had made it. It was a long night. At some point I fell asleep of exhaustion. A few hours later, I woke up looking for an update. Philando was dead. But there was a new concern, nobody knew where Diamond and her daughter were once taken into police custody.

The phone number for the Police Department was blasted all over social media. People from everywhere were calling inquiring about her. It was a moment of unity. I had several conversations with people on social media trying to create a line of communication updating each other on any new piece of information we could find. From the pictures on their twitter profiles, there were people from every background trying to make sure that Diamond and her daughter were OK. Total strangers for one moment united looking out for the well-being of one of us, another human being.  We need to extend those moments. At some point, in the morning, a friend of hers posted on Facebook that she had been found and we all breathed a little easier.

When I was a child, we used to place firecrackers on our neighbors fences. We would open the little string and take some of the powder off to act as a timer. The idea was that when the firecracker went off we would not be there, so we wouldn’t be found as the culprit. I think this firecracker had been lit for a while and this incident was the one that finally blew it.

I’ve tried to place myself in this woman’s shoes and I don’t know what my reaction would have been. I think that my reaction would have been to tender to him and that could have resulted in my own demise.  I don’t think I would have had the presence of mind to get my phone and start recording.

From everyone who knew Philando, that has spoken, he was a great guy. He worked at a Montessori school in the cafeteria. They say that he was a role model to the kids and well loved. It sounds like his passing was a true loss to the community.

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My biggest heartache is that child. That baby could have been shot in the crossfire. That baby can’t unsee what she saw. We don’t know how this will affect her in the future. If this was an intense experience for people watching the video, can you imagine what this does to the young mind of a 4-year-old?

Different things have been brought up. The ones that have been confirmed are that he didn’t have a criminal record, but tons of traffic related violations. He did have a gun and a permit for it. There has been the speculation that he didn’t have a permit because none were found in his county of residence. Apparently he obtained it in a different county. At the end of the day none of this matters, he didn’t deserve to die.

As I said yesterday, aside from the child, the eagerness to find something to say negative about him has been appalling. The attempt to justify that his life somehow was not important. I think as human beings we need to recognize that those feelings don’t come from godly places.

This one is a complicated one, there’s so many things that went wrong in the heat of emotions. Listing them is not important, but creating consciousness of what matters now.

We need to stop devaluing life. We are our brother’s keeper. We need to keep reminding ourselves that our brother and sister is Every. Single. Person around us. We all get hungry. We all get sad. We all get sick. Our blood is red for all. And it was with blood that we were bought. Blood was the prize that Jesus paid for our redemption. When things like this happen we need to embrace each other.

peaceRemember that regardless of the circumstances, there are immediately two families destroyed that had NOTHING to do with the incident; the shooter’s family and the family of the one who was shot. Let cool heads prevail. Let’s pray for the families that are going through the worst time of their lives. Let’s embrace each other instead of fighting each other over the smallest detail. It’s time to mourn together as the human race, because we have lost plenty in the last few days.

Be blessed.

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Perspective: Alton Sterling

As promised this is my first post on my perspective series. I’m trying not only to voice some of my feelings, but also some of my concerns with the current events in our country. I’m going to try to do this in the chronological order of the events.

The first incident (this time) was the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA. A homeless man called 911 stating that Mr.Sterling had threatened him with a gun. The police came to check the situation and he was shot to death during the exchange.

I became aware of this incident by the time the second video came out. That second video was the first one I saw.  Without more details I couldn’t understand why this man was shot. In the video that I saw, I saw him pinned to the ground by two police officers. One policeman had his legs, the other one was pointing a gun to his head and all of the sudden he received multiple shots to his chest. I know some people say that he was moving his hand, that his hand was moving towards the cop’s gun or could have been interpreted that he was going for the gun that he had in his possession. I don’t argue with what others saw. I didn’t’ see that. But that’s not for me to determined. The justice system is working on that and more details will come and provide more insight on this issue.

What hurts my heart about this incident has been the anger and reaction towards Mr. Sterling as a person. Comments like “he’s not an angel” and “he’s a sex offender” are thrown as if he deserved to die. From my perspective a lie and a murder are equal in the eyes of God. So any sin that I’ve committed in my life is not better or worse than any shortcomings that Mr. Sterling could have.  In moments like this we need to remember Romans 3:23

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I don’t know if the death penalty is legal in the state of Louisiana, but to my knowledge there are no sexual offenses that qualify for the death penalty legally speaking. Even, if so, as a society we have a process, a justice system that includes several steps to determine such things.

Mr. Sterling was a registered sex offender. He spent 4 years in jail for his offense. If you stop right here, you have already painted a picture of this man. But then you hear what the “victim” of his offense had to say; things are not so black and white. The mother of his son went on television to explain that she was in a relationship with Alton Sterling when she was 15 years old. Alton Sterling was 19-20 years old at the time. In the process of their relationship she became pregnant therefore he was accused of statutory rape and registered as a sex offender. I think in perspective the picture changes. The same lady stated that he was a good and present father for all his five kids and had a decent relationship with the mothers of his children.

Alton Sterling owed money for child support. If you stop right here, you can assume that he was irresponsible. Our reality as a society is that most convicts pay the consequences of their transgressions for a lifetime. Once they come out of jail, it is very hard for them to find a stable job due to their criminal record. So even when they have paid their debt to society, we continue to punish them beyond the term that the law saw fit for their punishment. Even with an education, it would have been very hard for him to find a well-paying job that could provide appropriately for his family. I’m not sure that he would qualify for a license to open his own business due to the same reasons.

The encounter with the police was not related to any of his past transgressions. When we say “but he did, but he was” we are providing a justification for his death. We are telling ourselves that it’s OK for him to not be alive because he wasn’t up to whatever standard we have placed on him and that’s not OK.

I saw his oldest son sobbing on television. It was a very sad thing. That son is 15 years. He and his siblings will not have a father to grow up with. Regardless of any past or current actions of Alton Sterling, he was a human being. He was a father, a son and a friend.

My prayer is that the community gathers around his family not only for support during this time of mourning, but for the kids in the future. My hope and prayer is that those around those kids step up to be inspirational figures so that they can become productive citizens.

Most of all, I want to make sure that we stop to think that a human being is dead and that a family is in mourning.

Blessings.

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I want to stress that my writings are my own. Those are my opinions, views and perspective and they do not reflect the views of my employers or any organization that I belong to. I also plan to not censor comments on these posts. I really never do, but I do require pre-authorization because I do not allow profanity, hate speech, or insults to me or other posters. Any comment with that content will be deleted. Disagreements in a civil way are more than welcome.