In the days since the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile was acquitted of manslaughter, the outcry on both social media and in the streets of the Twin Cities has been incredibly targeted, calling out groups like the NRA for their silence in the matter.
Despite the fact that Castile is dead today because he was exercising his constitutionally protected right to bear arms, the National Rifle Association has chosen not to comment on the jury's decision on a case that would normally fire up their base and mobilize its members. Activists from both sides of the issue have accused the NRA of only protecting white gun owners and siding with the police in a case that infringes upon the 2nd amendment.
The media clung onto this idea and proceeded to bludgeon the NRA to death with this talking point. The Boston Globe posted "Why Won't the NRA Speak Out About Philando Castile? " The Huffington post wrote "The NRA Doesn't Care About Philando Castile's Gun Rights" The Daily Show's Trevor Noah gave an impassion plea, calling out the NRA saying for "some strange reason on this particular case, they’ve been completely silent."
It is clear now that the NRA's silence after the verdict was largely due to Philando's skin color and the fact that his murderer was a police officer. Unfortunately, the Democrat's reasons for being silent are exactly the same as the NRA's.
With the exception of Bernie Sanders (who is registered as an Independent), there has been no prominent Democrat who has condemned the criminal justice system for failing Philando Castile's family and devaluing his life. While Democrats worked vigorously (and fell short) to match Barack Obama's historic turnout of the black community during the 2016 election, they have chosen to stay silent after one most disappointing verdicts for racial justice advocates in 2017.
But, they weren't always silent.
Both Hilary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren both took to twitter last year in the middle of the 2016 election to draw attention to Philando Castile - calling the video "sickening." Clinton further added that "Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn't consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin."
While these statements lacked concrete policy proposals to reform the criminal justice system, they reassured voters that the Democratic party stood for racial justice, and would support them. The problem was - their support ended November 9th 2016.
Once the police officer who fired six bullets into Philando Castile's chest during a routine traffic stop was granted legal impunity by the court system - the Democrats have stayed quieter than the NRA. They have retreated from their #BlackLivesMatter soapbox and refused to make even a peep about the verdict. Elizabeth Warren, a potential candidate for 2020, has said nothing about the verdict. Corey Booker, Hillary Clinton, Tom Perez, Barrack Obama, Al Franken, Keith Ellison, and absolutely every major democrat has stayed silent on this acquittal.
The Democrats clearly do not care about racial justice. Their statements in 2016 were lacking any policy details and that's because they had no intent in following through with their campaign rhetoric.
Make no mistake, the NRA's silence on Philando Castile should be condemned and it should be used to point out the group's white supremacy tendencies. However, we should stop pretending that we were expecting this redneck, racist, gun tootin organization to be the champion for racial justice.
But we should have demanded more from the Democratic Party than what we expect out of the NRA. It was the political party that was not afraid to chant "Black Lives Matter" on the convention floor last year. It is was the party that received 88% of the black vote in the election and gave Hillary Clinton the popular vote. It was the party who told racial minorities that were exhausted by a political system that fails to recognize their voice, to not vote for a 3rd party, but to vote for the the Democrats because they were going to stand-up to the status quo and make things better.
Instead, they put their head down in the back of the room along with the NRA and hoped no one would notice.