If you’re a victim of police brutality but don’t have a criminal rap sheet so conservative news outlets can drag your name through the mud, never fear! They’ll make one up for you.
Conservative Treehouse has posted an article now sweeping through social media like wildfire stating that Philando Castile, the 32 year-old dietary supervisor of a public school for 14 years, was an “armed robbery suspect,” and seems to imply strongly that Castile may have in fact been the man who robbed a nearby convenience store a few days ago. This despicable, slanderous pack of lies has been ripped to shreds by Snopes, the popular (and politically unaffiliated) hoax-debunker, but it still continues to make its rounds through other conservative media outlets who’ve picked it up.
The article doesn’t stop at the entirely false assertion that Castile was a “suspect” under investigation for a crime. It goes on to imply that Castile was not in fact licensed to carry a firearm as his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds stated in her viral Facebook video upload of Castile’s death. This too is a lie.
And it doesn’t stop there. The article goes on to say that the handgun shown in the video “appears” to be the same type of gun used by a black man in a grainy photograph robbing a convenience store our days earlier. “Appears.” It goes on to quote the following, with bolded portions added by Conservative Treehouse for reasons I’ll leave to your imagination:
“The other suspect was described as a black man with shoulder-length dreadlocks, who wore tan pants, tan shoes with white soles, a green jacket, a green baseball cap and glasses, the release says. He also had some of his hair pulled into a bun through the strap on the back of his hat and had a small mustache and facial hair on his chin.”
The article then goes on to say (I swear I’m not making this up; check the link), “However, whether Mr. Castile is actually the person who committed the armed robbery is -again- essentially a moot point.”
Read that again.
They spent most of the article making the case that Castile (who, again, was a beloved dietary supervisor at a public school he’d worked at for fourteen years with an unblemished record) may have been the man who’d robbed a convenience store four days prior. They spent the majority of the article trying to get the reader to accept the absolutely ridiculous idea that a consistently employed pillar of the community suddenly started robbing convenience stores for extra cash, then pretended to wash their hands of the whole affair saying it’s a “moot point.”
In reality, what happened was that a police officer radioed in that he’d seen a black man with a “broad nose” through the windshield of a moving vehicle, and was going to stop him because a nearby convenience store had been robbed a few days ago by another black man with a “broad nose.” That man was then gunned down for following orders to show his ID, and then allowed to bleed to death in the seat of his car.
Philando Castile was a good man. He was nicknamed “Mr. Rogers with Dreadlocks” by one of the students at his place of employment because of his peaceful, gentle nature. He memorized the names and allergies of hundreds of students and often went out of his way to get them extra helpings of the treats they loved. Colleagues say he was a role model to the countless students he’d served in his time there.
But none of that should matter. You don’t get to execute a man without trial in America, regardless of their criminal history. These slanderous news reports, which come out with clockwork predictability after every act of police brutality is recorded on video and circulated to the public, are used to manipulate the very darkest aspects of social consciousness. They’re designed to win the support of the same people who tweet things like “Thanks officer for putting down that thug like the animal he was” and “Good thing he took that monkey out of the breeding pool.” The same lowest of the lowest common denominator that led to black Americans being tortured and mutilated to death in the American South not that long ago.
We’re seeing something very dark being drawn into the light of public consciousness with these slanderous articles. I hope we learn the right lessons from it.
[Image by AP Photo/Nati Harnik]