Minnesota auto shop replaces tail light bulbs free of charge in honor of Philando Castile

Posted: July 20, 2016 in for your reflection

Found in Daily Kos this wonderful article written by Thandisizwe Chimurenga and the tribute to Mr. Castile brought tears to our eyes. We here at furbirdsqueerly send out so much love to Unity Autoworks.

Philando Castile, a St. Paul school cafeteria supervisor, in his uniform

Philando Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light on July 6, 2016, and subsequently shot by a police officer for complying with his requests.

Unity Autoworks in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, is offering to replace motorists’ bulbs in tail lights and license plates indefinitely, free, of charge, in honor of Philando Castile. Castile was shot four times on July 6 by a St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer after reaching for his wallet during a traffic stop. The aftermath of the shooting was live streamed by his partner Lavish Williams on Facebook. According to Williams, the couple was pulled over for a broken tail light.

The automotive repair shop, located not far from the intersection where Castile was shot, first made the announcement on their Facebook page early on July 7:

Brandon Jefferson, the owner of Unity Autoworks, came up with the idea for the action:

“We can’t fix everything,” Unity Autoworks co-owner Brandon Jefferson explained to local alt-weekly City Pages, “but this is one less reason for people to get pulled over.”

Jefferson, who is black, told the paper that he himself had been pulled over by police for “questionable reasons,” but it was Castile’s shooting which prompted him to act—first at his autoshop, and most recently at a celebration in Rondo, St. Paul’s historically African American neighborhood, that was largely tempered by Castile’s death.

Castile had 45 prior traffic stops over “questionable reasons” before he was killed. Alleged traffic violations act not only as revenue generators for small cities and counties, but also as effective buffers from the haves and and the have-nots in certain neighborhoods.

Unity Autoworks has received an outpouring of support for the gesture.

They deserve every bit, and then some. You can see the auto shop’s original message below.

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