MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Before the trial over George Floyd’s death, we visited Ms. Valerie Castile at her home in Minneapolis. Four weeks and a murder conviction later, we spoke with her over Zoom. She shares the same pain as George Floyd’s family and all the other families who have lost loved ones at the hands of law enforcement.
“I'm a mother 100%, and I would never want any other mother to go through this traumatic experience in this difficult journey that I'm on right now,” Ms. Castile said. “Philando lost his life to a police officer in a routine traffic stop -- our children are being murdered by law enforcement and gun violence as a whole. I want my people to live."
George Floyd’s murder opened the rest of the world’s eyes. During the month-long trial of Derek Chauvin, the city of Minneapolis eagerly awaited his fate.
“I would describe it as tense,” Dr. August Nimtz said.
Dr. August Nimtz is a political science professor at the University of Minnesota. He vividly remembers the civil rights movement in the 1960s and says a lot has changed since then.
“There would not have been a trial without the protests," Dr. Nimtz said. "Given the history of police brutality cases, the fact that you can even indict and bring to trial police is rare.”
He says Chauvin's conviction is an important amplifier in the movement to end police brutality.
“The jury and was a very diverse," Dr. Nimtz said. "You had 12 people: four white women, two white men, one of them one in their twenties and thirties, three black men, one black woman and two mixed race people."
However, he says it will take much more to actually end police brutality.
“I think everybody recognizes this is a step, but it doesn't represent any kind of fundamental change when it comes to police brutality. OK, I think we can agree on the question is what do we do next? Well, the lesson of this is that it's possible to build an inclusive mass anti-police brutality movement. That's what the jury, I think, was telling us.”
Dr. Nimtz says people need to continue taking to the streets in massive peaceful protests with diverse people. Protests that are organized without looting or vandalism.
For her part - Ms. Castile says she wishes her son’s case could be revisited. That officer was acquitted of all charges. However, she’s finding ways to instill change. Right now, she’s working with lawmakers on a bill that would invest half a billion dollars into Black and African immigrant communities. Its purpose is to end systemic racism. It’s called the Philando Castile Omnibus Bill.
“I think this bill should be a model for every state,” Ms. Castile said.
Ms. Castile says the money wouldn’t go directly into people’s hands. Rather, it would go to specific departments and organizations that can help lift up Black communities through things like business training, affordable housing opportunities and trauma-informed care at resource centers.
“If you have a community that you underfund, there will be schools closing, resource centers closing, employment opportunities dwindle," Ms. Castile said. "There would be no home buying, no cars. So now you get all this crime.”
She says you eliminate crime by helping everyone to be a productive member of society. If it doesn’t pass, Ms. Castile says she’ll keep trying doing all she can to fulfill Philando’s legacy.
“Nothing that I do is planned by me, baby," Ms. Castile said. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Everything I do has been already planned by God, and he gone make it come through.”