More than five years after Philando Castile was killed, the local district attorney is taking action on minor traffic stops. On Wednesday afternoon, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that his office would no longer prosecute non-public safety stops for things like expired tags and broken tail lights.
Choi’s office described the new policy as a county-wide change “aimed at fundamentally changing the use of non-public safety traffic stops by police, which typically occurs when a motorist is stopped for an equipment violation to seek evidence of a more serious crime.” Acknowledging these stops disproportionally affect black and brown communities, the county attorney and undermine the trust in the work police do every day to serve and protect the public.
“As leaders in the justice system, we must step forward and fundamentally change a longstanding systemic injustice that has impacted generations of people in our community and across this country,” Choi said in a statement. “Recognizing the role we play as prosecutors in perpetuating racial inequities that often result from these types of stops is an important first step in charting a new, less harmful course. I want to thank those in law enforcement across Ramsey County who recognize both the significance and importance of this shift in how we interact with our community.”
The move has broad law enforcement and community support, including from Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile. Speaking with NewsOne, Valerie Castile called the move “bittersweet.”
“Our courts are clogged up with these minor infractions on a vehicle, which causes frustration to the community anxieties and financial hardship,” explained Castile. “In order for us to move forward, you know that there has to be a broad change in policing and reform. And this is a minor step, but it’s appreciated.”
In her reflection on the few changes since a St. Anthony law enforcement officer killed her son during an allegedly routine traffic stop, Castile mentioned the Light’s On! program founded by former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels. Housed within the nonprofit MicroGrants, the program has covered at least 100 law enforcement agencies across the state. Officers give drivers vouchers to get a simple repair instead of tickets.
“Right now with the pandemic, you know, we’re in a financial crisis right now, anyway,” said Castille. “These tickets can compound a lot of issues for family, you know, just answering the ticket may cause you to lose your job, or you have to make a choice, do I pay my light bills or do I pay this ticket?”
According to Choi, five out of nine law enforcement agencies in the county have adopted the policy. The policy change comes after working with national and local groups, including the Vera Institute of Justice, and organizing after Philando’s killing.
As part of the Vera Institute’s Motion for Justice program, Choi received support in shaping the new policy and building a bridge between his office, law enforcement, and the community. Other prosecutor offices partnering with the program include St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins.
Valerie Castile recounted her son’s killing and said people needed to have their voices heard and for officials to have the tough conversations.
“You have these conversations and, you know, everything’s going good, and then it just falls by the wayside,” Castille said. “The more we keep having these conversations and speak things into existence, then you know, we can actually see some visible change.”
Violent White Folks Who Were Taken Into Custody With Loving Care By Police
1. Miami airport violence
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Last night at Miami Int’l Airport. Another FL anti-masker covidiot. (Strong language). pic.twitter.com/kO18bBFPTb— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) August 28, 2021
2. Floyd Ray Roseberry
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NEW: “The revolution is on. It’s here… I’m ready to die for the cause.”— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 19, 2021
Here’s video from the man who said he’s got a bomb outside the Capitol.
Follow @huffpost and @sara_bee for more as the situation develops. pic.twitter.com/aRx1hES7Vl
3. Jeffrey Nicholas
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Jeffrey Nicholas, a white man shot and killed two police officers and injured a city worker in Texas before he was able to be safely apprehended without law enforcement resorting to using lethal force.https://t.co/sLhFwxZHgg pic.twitter.com/yWd0XUg7Og— NewsOne (@newsone) May 13, 2021
4. Robert Aaron Long, suspect in Asian massage parlor killing spree in GASource:Crisp County Sheriff's Office 4 of 32
5. Duke Webb, bowling alley gunman in Rockford, IllinoisSource:Winnebago County Sheriff's Office 5 of 32
6. Car Drives Into Group Of Protesters In New YorkSource:Getty 6 of 32
7. Brad Parscale, demoted former Trump campaign managerSource:Getty 7 of 32
8. Brett HankisonSource:Shelby County Sheriff's Department 8 of 32
9. Thomas Kinworthy accused of killing Black cop, shooting another9 of 32
10. Dalton Potter allegedly shot a cop and another man
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BLUE ALERT issued for Dalton Potter, age 29. Potter is suspected of shooting a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy overnight. Last known to be on foot on Interstate 75 at the Whitfield/Gordon County line. Potter is considered armed and dangerous. Call 911. #BlueAlert pic.twitter.com/Vdyl8ReGaW— GA Bureau of Investigation (@GBI_GA) September 7, 2020
11. White suspect physically attacking officer
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Interesting.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) August 30, 2020
Thinking about Jacob Blake right now. Sure seems like white people get the benefit of the doubt when engaged with the police... pic.twitter.com/kLh9iCJepp
12. Kyle Rittenhouse, Kenosha Jacob Blake shooterSource:Twitter 12 of 32
13. White supremacist who beat a woman on video
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Nicholas Arnold Schock, 36, of Wauchula was arrested and charged with battery and disturbing the peace and bail was set at $620. He remains at the Sarasota County Jail. pic.twitter.com/ggDBjAxCN1— Carlos R. Munoz 📰 (@ReadCarlos) August 2, 2020
14. West Hollywood shooter14 of 32
15. Gregory and Travis McMichaelsSource:Glynn County Sheriff's Office 15 of 32
16. Anthony J. Trifiletti, shot an unarmed Black manSource:Saint Paul Police Department 16 of 32
17. Matthew Bernard, Killed Three People17 of 32
18.18 of 32
19. Mark Boisey19 of 32
20. Lorne BrownSource:NBC Miami 20 of 32
21. Patrick Crusius, El Paso Mall Mass Shooting Suspect
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Patrick Crusius allegedly wrote a racist manifesto before killing at least 18 people in Saturday's shooting at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso. The suspect, a white male, was safely taken into custody.— NewsOne (@newsone) August 3, 2019
This is America. #Walmartshooting #ElPasoShootinghttps://t.co/cjYzJZsCXn
22. Aaron DeanSource:Tarrant County Jail 22 of 32
23. Amber Guyger23 of 32
24. James Holmes
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Today on #CrimeStories: Prosecutors have released video of #Aurora shooter #JamesHolmes’ interviews w/ a psychiatrist. Tune in now on @SiriusXM ch. 111 for insight on the evaluation of his sanity in the #Colorado theater massacre. #NancyGrace #CrimeAlert #CrimeOnline #MassKiller pic.twitter.com/DKRD2s0ay8— Crime Online (@crimeonlinenews) February 26, 2019
25. Michael Mattioli25 of 32
26. Dylann RoofSource:Getty 26 of 32
27. Matthew Sloan Punched And Spit On Police...
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Again, if Matthew Sloan was a Black man this would be a much different story. https://t.co/K4cwb6SQ38— NewsOne (@newsone) July 12, 2019
28. Assaulted Police And Even Chased Them...
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This man never complied— Gambling Refund 💵™ (@OffshoreRefund) May 14, 2019
This man actually hit police multiple times
This man chased police and made them fear for safety
This man was not killed!
Pamela Turner was murdered and pregnant, she was never given the same opportunity. WHY? @KingJamespic.twitter.com/DfzdICbOy8
29. Shot At Police At Trump Tower...29 of 32
30. Shot At Police At Walmart -- And Was Let Go...30 of 32
31. Man Holds Black Man At Gunpoint And He Is Calmly Arrested...
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Downtown CHARLOTTESVILLE right now. F*ing white trash has a black man submitted first with a knife around his neck, then makes him kneel still threatening to stab him.— ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕓𝕚𝕡𝕠𝕝𝕒𝕣 𝕥𝕠𝕕𝕒𝕪 (@tomorrowtambien) December 28, 2018
Please, Twitter do your thing in the name of justice #resist @washingtonpost @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/klg7g5ac22
32. Grady Wayne Wilkes32 of 32
Valerie Castile Approves Of DA’s Push To End Prosecution of Certain Traffic Stops was originally published on newsone.com