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Following the death of 32-year-old St. Paul, Minn., school worker Philando Castile – who was shot during a traffic stop Wednesday after he allegedly followed an officer’s command to present his driver’s license – country singer/inspirational speaker Coffey Anderson has created an instructional video offering safety tips on the “proper protocol of what to do when you get pulled over.” The video, posted Thursday, has gone immediately viral; as of this writing, it has racked up almost 24 million views, 800,000 shares, and 213,000 “likes” or other reactions on Facebook.
Some of the video’s 32,000 Facebook commenters have criticized Anderson – a black country artist recognizable to many as a top 12 finalist on the 2008 season of Nashville Star – arguing that he is encouraging fear and docility, or that he is putting the onus on the driver rather than on the officer in a traffic-stop situation. Some commenters have lamented that such a video is even necessary. But others have praised Anderson for having a practical, common-sense approach to a hot-button issue.
“Guys, listen. This is about going home,” Anderson explains in the clip. “There is a big disconnect, because at the end of the day, it’s about stereotypes. The stereotypes that I’ve seen of policemen was the video from Rodney King. And a lot of stereotypes that [cops] see of African American men are not positive… I want to break the wall down between what we really don’t know about each other, to what we can learn from each other. So let’s make a simple protocol that can get you guys home safer – on the police side, and on our side.”