Franken calls for unity to address racial inequality

Franken calls for unity to address racial inequality
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Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats turn on Al Franken Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE (D-Minn.) called on Saturday for unity in addressing racial inequality after a jury's decision to acquit a Minnesota police officer charged in the shooting of black motorist Philando Castile. 

"I am heartbroken for the family and loved ones of Philando Castile, whose beloved son, brother, boyfriend, nephew and friend was tragically taken from them last summer," Franken wrote in a Facebook post. "Philando did not deserve to die."

"I am thankful to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for pursuing justice for Philando and his family, and whatever one’s opinion of the outcome in this case, we must come together and take concrete action to reckon with and dismantle the systemic racial inequalities that lead to far too many of these deaths."

The shooting death of Castile during a July 2016 traffic stop gripped the country and intensified the debate over law enforcement's treatment of black people.

The aftermath of the shooting was livestreamed by Castile's girlfriend, who was in the car with him and her young daughter at the time, offering a bloody and emotional first-hand account of the episode.

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The Latino police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was subsequently charged with second-degree manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm but was acquitted Friday.

The officer's acquittal immediately sparked protests and ignited anger among many, who argued that the verdict was an affirmation that police could kill black people with impunity. 

Eighteen protesters were arrested Saturday morning, during a march on a Minnesota freeway to protest the acquittal, according to Minnesota State Patrol.

The not-guilty verdicts in Yanez's trial came a month after a jury acquitted a Tulsa, Okla., police officer charged in the shooting of an unarmed black man.

Updated at 4:45 p.m.