Leaders and organizations across Minnesota and the nation released statements and took to social media in response to the acquittal on all charges of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the fatal shooting of motorist Philando Castile. Here is a roundup of local and national reaction to the verdict.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton:
“I extend again my deepest condolences to Philando Castile's family, to his friends, and to his community. Minnesotans continue to grieve with them, for their horrible loss. Mr. Castile’s death was a terrible tragedy, with devastating consequences for everyone involved. I will continue to do all I can to help our state heal.
“There are thousands of law enforcement officers, who courageously risk their lives to protect our communities, and many other dedicated Minnesotans, who are working to correct the injustices in our state. I believe that, working together, we can make the changes necessary to secure both safety and justice, in all of our communities, for all Minnesotans.”
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith:
“One year ago, Philando Castile’s life was tragically cut short. Mr. Castile’s family, his friends, and hundreds of children who looked up to him at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School are still grieving his loss. As Minnesotans, we mourn with them, and offer our heartfelt support as they continue to cope with this terrible loss.
“The pain and anger ignited by horrific events, such as this one, test our trust in one another. As Minnesotans, we can never forget. We owe it to all those impacted by this tragedy – including our law enforcement officers that work to protect us – to learn from one another. We must keep working to do everything within our power to make Minnesota a more fair and just society.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman:
“Today we learned of the jury’s verdict regarding the shooting death of Philando Castile. Philando was a son of Saint Paul – a graduate of Central High School, and a dedicated employee at J.J. Hill Montessori, where he was loved by his students and co-workers.
“I commend Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and his staff for bringing this case – they did what they believed to be right for the cause of justice. Regardless of how you feel about the outcome, this is a difficult time in our community. Recognizing there is need for support, we will be opening the doors of community centers, schools and local gathering spaces for residents to come together for dialogue and understanding.
“As people across our city, state and country react to the jury’s verdict, I urge each of us to move forward in a way that is peaceful and respectful of everyone – residents, demonstrators and police officers alike.”
Law Enforcement Labor Services (Minnesota law enforcement union):
The St. Paul School District:
“The verdict of the Officer Jeronimo Yanez trial may bring strong emotions for those who knew and cared for Philando Castile. This is a tragedy that impacts many people and lives in our community were forever changed.
The Saint Paul Public Schools community continues to remember and mourn the loss of "Mr. Phil," a beloved SPPS employee. School district counselors will be available to talk with students and staff as needed once summer term begins on June 19.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL:
This is a very hard day for Philando Castile’s family, those he loved, and our community. I’ve met Philando’s family and know how much the students at J.J. Hill Montessori adored him and miss him.
The right to free speech is critical to our democracy. In the days ahead, I hope that everyone exercises that right peacefully and that we can work together to foster trust between our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-St. Paul:
“The death of Philando Castile last summer was a tragedy that shook our community and our entire country. His death continues to be painful and traumatic for his family, loved ones, and the many people touched by his life. After a thorough and fair investigation, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi correctly brought this case before a jury. The trial offered transparency to the public and allowed a jury to determine legal responsibility in this case. The jury has now resolved the legal issue of criminality by acquitting Officer Jeronimo Yanez.
Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis:
Nekima Levy-Pounds, Minneapolis mayoral candidate and civil rights lawyer
U.S. Attorney's Office, Minnesota District:
From the outset, this case has been closely monitored by the Department of Justice. An experienced career prosecutor with the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota was cross designated to assist the state prosecution team. We determined that this course of action was the strongest available avenue for a prosecution, given the higher level of intent required under the applicable federal criminal civil rights law. In the wake of today’s verdict, we are assessing whether any additional federal review is justified.
ACLU of Minnesota:
The jury's decision to acquit Officer Yanez does not negate the fact that Philando Castile’s tragic death is part of a disturbing national pattern of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Philando Castile was one of 1,092 individuals killed by the police in 2016. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, we must confront the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color experience with their local law enforcement.
Many Minnesotans and Americans will be disappointed, heartbroken, and angry over today’s verdict. Every member of our community is entitled to their own opinion on the case — and the peaceful expression of those opinions is the cornerstone of our democracy. However, there are things we can all agree on: We must work together to build a stronger, more trusting relationship between our communities and our law enforcement. And we must truly confront racism and racial injustice in every facet of our society. As we have these important conversations, I am hopeful that the entire Twin Cities community will be respectful of one another.
Congressional Black Caucus:
“This verdict tells African Americans across the country that they can be killed by police officers with impunity, even when they are following the law, and that it is reasonable for any person interacting with an African American in any way to fear for his or her life.
“This verdict also tells African Americans that the second amendment does not apply to them. Mr. Castile was licensed to carry a weapon, was honest with the officer about having a weapon in the car, and there is no evidence that he attempted to or intended to use the weapon against the officer.
“We need to work at all levels of government to create a system of justice that upholds the rights of every American, whether they are black or white.
“I grieve for the Castile family. I cannot imagine their loss and this verdict is an unjust insult to an unbearable injury. I also grieve for African Americans across the country. We should be able to live our lives like all other Americans, free to enjoy the rights our constitution guarantees us.”
Other members of Congress, civil rights leaders and activists tweeted about the verdict:
Correction: An earlier version of this post included a previous statement from U.S. Sen Al Franken from before the trial.