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Minnesota gov: Police shooting of Castile rooted in racism

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton released a blunt statement about the fatal police shooting earlier this week of Philando Castile – a black man whose traffic stop-slash-shooting death was chronicled in a video posted on Facebook – and said, in no uncertain terms, racism was a key reason for the incident.

“Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have,” Dayton said, in a widely reported press conference. “I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.”

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Castile, 32, was shot by a police officer Wednesday evening during a traffic stop, as WND previously reported. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who was traveling with Castile when they were pulled over, started filming the incident on her cell-phone camera shortly after an officer fired at Castile. She then posted the video, which has been viewed tens of thousands of times, to Facebook. Among her on-camera comments, as Castile is seen in the driver’s seat with a blood-soaked white shirt, groaning in pain: “He killed my boyfriend.”

Dayton announced after the incident – which came just after another police officer in Baton Rouge killed a black man named Alton Sterling, 37, during a struggle outside a local store – that he was asking the Department of Justice to investigate.

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But his other comments affirming his belief that Castile’s death could have been avoided had law enforcement officers not been guilty, at least in part, of racism, are taking front and center, in the wake of protests of perceived police bias in Dallas that resulted in a massacre.

In Dallas on Thursday evening, five police officers were shot and killed, and seven more injured, as well as two civilians hurt, in a sniper shooting that took place at the tail end of protests for Castile and Sterling.

Dayton’s remarks, made Thursday before the Dallas shootings, are nonetheless likely to be seen as affirmation of protesters’ accusations of racism against police.

“Nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota,” Dayton said, “for a taillight being out of function. Nobody should be shot and killed while seated still in their car. I’m heartbroken.”

Interestingly, the suspect who had been killed during a stand-off with police after the attack, Micah X. Johnson, said his mission was to kill white people, as WND previously reported.

Early reports listed Johnson as an Army veteran who served in the Reserve, angered by recent police shootings, but with no prior criminal record or ties to terrorism, Heavy.com reported. He did tell officers during a stand-off, however, the “end is coming” and his intent was to “kill more” police, the Dallas mayor said.