Media thinks they’ve really got the goods on Philando Castile, the Black man stopped for a routine traffic violation in a Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb who ended up shot to death. They’re reporting that he had been pulled over at least 31 times in the past 14 years & charged with a string of 63 misdemeanor violations like speeding, not wearing his seat belt, no proof of insurance, improper display of license plate, & other such nonsense, including parking violations.
Well let me tell you my experience in Ramsey County traffic court–& I wasn’t Driving While Black. In the 25 years I drove in Boston, I did not have a single moving violation but in the ten years I lived in St. Paul, I racked up at least 25 & hundreds of dollars in fines. On one instance, I was legally parked in front of my house before they put up street cleaning notices. When I saw a traffic cop issuing a ticket I ran out to plead with him not to & just let me move the car about 100 feet into a parking lot. He refused & handed me the ticket. I’m smart enough not to lip off to police so I got in my car & drove into the lot–followed by a motorcycle cop who issued me a second ticket for over $400. So don’t give me the baloney about Philando Castile having a misdemeanor criminal record.
I am also unable to work at any job requiring a criminal background check because in 2001, I participated in a peaceful rally in Minneapolis against experimenting on animals. I drew the attention of FBI undercover cops present because I negotiated stentorian-style with the head of the 800 riot cops encircling us to prevent us from getting our heads beat in. If we were going to get beaten up, I wanted witnesses to know we were willing to peacefully & quietly go even if our right to assemble was being denied.
Ninety protesters were arrested, half of whom were later released as undercover agents. Those of us who refused to sign away our rights were put on trial for several misdemeanors & acquitted of all charges. I was on trial for a week on misdemeanor charges like unlawful assembly. But when I applied for work as a substitute teacher in Texas 8 years later, I received a letter from the state school board saying the FBI had flagged my criminal record for using a weapon for mass destruction.
Charged with using a WMD & still allowed to roam the streets & leave the state. My later research showed that the smallest WMD is 40 pounds heavier than I am. But the accusation prevents me from working at any jobs that require a criminal background check or from adopting or fostering children & it costs hundreds of dollars to remove from my criminal record.
So don’t try to pawn off chopped liver as chateaubriand to this women. I know the score about traffic & criminal court in Minnesota. Philando Castile is no more criminal than I am & the only crimes I am guilty of in my entire life are parking violations & speeding when there are no traffic cops around to catch me.