Social media critics have lashed out at a new plan by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to try to keep drivers safe during traffic stops.
The department has offered drivers what they call “unreachable pouches” as a security measure that allows drivers to keep their driver’s license and insurance in plain sight, so a police officer doesn’t think they’re trying to grab a gun.
The bags are in part in response to the police shooting of Philando Castile by a cop in suburban Minneapolis in 2016. Castile was driving with his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter when he was apprehended.
However, some on social media consider the pouches a form of victimization, calling them “kill-me-bags” or “please-execute-me-bags.”
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has offered drivers what they call “unreachable pouches” that allow drivers to keep their license and insurance
St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez asked Castile for a driver’s license and insurance certificate, which he gives the officer through the driver’s side window.
Castile then tells Yanez that he has a firearm in the vehicle, along with a license to carry the weapon.
Yanez takes his pistol from its holster and tells Castile not to reach for it before firing seven shots into the car moments later.
The death of Philando Castile was an inspiration for the pouches. Castile was shot at seven times in an attempt to get his hands on his information and not for the weapon he was legally allowed to possess
The officer’s attorney said his client believed he was approaching someone who looked like an armed robbery suspect.
Yanez was later acquitted on charges of manslaughter and two minor charges.
In addition, another Minnesota man, then 20-year-old Daunte Wright, was killed by Officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop after he resisted arrest and she threatened to taser him in April 2021.
Potter actually fired a gun at Wright and the bullet hit him in the chest. She has since claimed she grabbed the wrong weapon – her gun was in her holster on her right, while the taser was on her left.
Daunte Wright, 20, was killed by Officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop after he resisted arrest and she threatened to taser him.
Potter is now charged with first-degree manslaughter, in addition to a previous charge of second-degree manslaughter.
She claimed she wanted to use her taser instead of her gun when she shot Wright on April 11.
Similar tragedies occurred in South Carolina in 2014, when Sean Grouber shot motorist Levar Jones after stopping him in Richland County for not wearing a seat belt; as well as in Alabama that same year, when a police officer shot an unarmed Air Force officer.
Castile’s death prompted the creator of the “Not Reaching!” pouch, Jackie Carter, to perform. Carter sits on the nonprofit’s board of directors Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops, which teaches student drivers how to deal with traffic congestion.
Social media has had mixed reactions to the pouches, with one Twitter user vilifying them as “don’t kill me pouches.”
Another replied bluntly, “Have you tried just not to shoot people?”
Many social media users have criticized the pouches as a way to shift blame onto victims of police shootings
One important person, however, favors the pouches: Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile.
Castile worked with Carter to bring the pouches to Minnesota.
Carter thinks the reaction on social media has gone too far.
“It shows me there’s still this division,” Carter said. “No one looks at the middle ground. It’s us against them. And that must come to an end.’
However, one important person is in favor of the pouches: Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile
Valerie Castile thought it was a “brilliant idea” and says that both she and her daughter use the bags and hand them out to the parents.
My god, it’s a plastic card holder for God’s sake. Why are you upset and angry about a piece of plastic?’ said Castile. “Some people don’t have to worry about that in the morning when their kids leave. They don’t have that fear and frustration that their child might not come home because of what’s happening in the world. But for the fact that my son was murdered, there probably wouldn’t be an unreachable pouch.”
Castile adds that she still supports “bigger” policy changes, such as a nearby Minnesota county no longer prosecuting minor traffic violations.
Valerie Castile thought it was a ‘brilliant idea’ and says both she and her daughter use the bags and hand them out to the parents