Philando Castile’s death at the hands of a police officer sent shockwaves around the nation in 2016. By all accounts, the 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor was beloved by his friends and family, but it was his impact on the students at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in Saint Paul, Minn. that really highlighted Castile’s caring nature.
Before he was fatally shot by St. Anthony Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, Castile informed the officer he was carrying a legally registered firearm. Despite Castile being a “good guy with a gun,” Yanez fired seven shots into the car after claiming he feared for his life. A jury acquitted Yanez on all charges stemming from the fatal encounter, sparking outrage and protests from the community. But there was one very silent party, the National Rifle Association.
Although the NRA has been an outspoken proponent of increasing gun ownership, particularly in the wake of mass shootings, the group was conspicuously silent after Castile, a registered gun owner, was killed for exercising his 2nd Amendment rights. And Castile’s mother is calling them out.
“If he really cared about the good guys out here, he would have stood up for my son. It’s about money,” Valerie Castile said about NRA leader, Wayne LaPierre.
“He didn’t say anything because my son was Black,” Valerie Castile contended. “My son went through the same programs as every gun owner. But they started nitpicking, ‘He should have done this, he should have done that.’ The bottom line is that he told the officer he had a weapon, and the officer became a selfish man, only thinking about his own life and family. He chose to shoot my son several times. One of the bullets was 16 inches from that baby in the backseat.”
“Arming the schools will make them more like a battlefield. If everyone has guns, bullets will be flying everywhere. You’ll end up with more bodies,” she told the New York Daily News. She also asserted that Black educators could meet the same tragic end as her son if they carried a gun on campus.
“It could happen to a teacher,” she said. “It could be the same thing. If you have three words — black, man, gun — there are no negotiations. They could be killed when all they wanted to do was protect their students.”