Since the release of police dashcam video showing a Minnesota officer fatally shooting Philando Castile — a black man — during a traffic stop last July, controversy surrounding Jeronimo Yanez's manslaughter acquittal escalated considerably.
You can add Colion Noir — a familiar face on NRATV — to the list of those with strong opinions on the matter.
The same day the dashcam video was released, Noir penned a Facebook open letter titled, "Philando Castile Should Be Alive Today."
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Noir begins his letter by recounting a harrowing episode when he was a teenager in a car with three other black teens, just looking to get directions from a police officer. Instead, Noir writes, the officer pulled his gun, pointed it at them and ordered them "don't f***ing move!"
"Eventually, everything was sorted out, but the whole ordeal messed me up," he continued. "We were good kids who never got in any trouble. All we wanted to do was ask for directions. I couldn’t understand why the cop felt so threatened by us. I remember asking myself, if we were four white teens would he have acted the same way? I don’t know, but the fact that I have to ask that question at such an age should tell you something."
While Noir notes he despises race baiting, he says that "there is also a problem with some people in this country dismissing racism wholesale when it isn't overt racial slurs or crosses burning on front lawns. Covert racism is a real thing and is very dangerous. Covert racism works the same way anti-gunners use coded language to push gun control."
As for the case of Officer Yanez, Noir acknowledges that he doesn't believe Yanez "woke up that day wanting to shoot a black person." But then the nagging question hits him: "Would he have done the same thing if Philando were white?"
Noir concludes that "Philando Castile should be alive today. I believe there was a better way to handle the initial stop. If he suspected Philando was a suspect in a robbery, there were ways to conduct that stop in a way that would have completely avoided the shooting altogether, but Yanez neglected to do so."
More from Noir:
Personally, I feel because Yanez pulled Philando over under the suspicion that he was a robbery suspect coupled with the presence of a gun, it put Yanez in a heightened state. I feel he lost control of his wits and overreacted. This now brings me to the question of race. Do I think Yanez felt threatened by the fact that Philando was black? It's very possible Yanez was indifferent about Philando's race. However, because of the negative stereotype reinforced in the media about black men and guns, it wouldn't completely surprise me if Yanez felt more threatened by Philando because he was black. This is the same negative stereotype that I've been trying to combat for years now.
Legally, I'm left asking myself: Was Yanez failing to conduct a proper felony stop reckless or negligent enough to warrant a second degree manslaughter conviction? As a lawyer, I'm hard pressed to think so. But the young black male in me says hell yes. Admittedly, I don’t have all the facts the jury had; I didn’t hear the testimony the jury heard. Maybe after hearing his testimony they believe Yanez honestly felt his life was in danger and justifiably so. However, I have to be honest and say, he shouldn’t be able to just walk away freely without legal consequence I just don't know what that consequence should be.
Noir says that while he'd prefer to keep race out of the argument, he believes it "would be irresponsible not to consider race as a possible motive in this shooting," particularly given other instances where race was a legitimate factor.
"In my eyes, Yanez screwed up big time," Noir concludes. "I don’t feel he was out to take a black life that day, but it doesn’t matter because his actions cost Philando his life. My legal mind can see why they couldn’t get to manslaughter in the second degree based solely on the facts at hand, but Yanez walking away from this case a free and clear man is just wrong."
Reactions to Noir's letter were mixed.
One commenter, Jared Dana, pointed out to Noir that "by you making it a race issue, you are no better then the race baiters that you bash! Until now, I never looked at you like a 'Black man,' I only viewed you as a fellow gun owner/American/patriot. I am disappointed that you had to go and change that for me."
Others defended Noir and told angry commenters to tone things down.
"Dear everyone, you know you can disagree with Mr. Colion Noir without being 'super ultimate pissed,'" Dan Marchildon wrote "We often talk of civil discourse — how about we practice it?"
Lonnie Robinson added: "This man is admitting his internal/intellectual/legalistic conflict, and some of you have turned on him. That's just sad. This man is not 'race baiting' or 'making it about race.' If we can't be honest about structural racism, and the part [it] plays in the psyche of the general public ... we can't be honest about racism at all."
(H/T: Bearing Arms)