Kansas City Artist José Faus Responds To Video Of Philando Castile's Death With A Poem

Jul 14, 2016

After seeing video of Philando Castile's death at the hands of a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer, Kansas City artist and writer José Faus felt he had to do something.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City artist and writer José Faus was getting ready for bed when he first saw the video of Philando Castile's death at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota.

"There's sun coming in the car window," he remembers. "I see the glare, to the left the open window, the sky, the trees, the [gun] ... and then, the wound."

He says he will never forget the crimson of the blood against Castile's white shirt.

Listening to the faceless voices of Castile's girlfriend and the officer, seeing a gun unwavering, aimed at what Faus describes as a "crumpled" body — it got to be too much. He turned it off.

"Then I thought, you know what, I owe it to this lady to listen," he says.

Nearing the end of the 10-minute cell phone video, Castile's girlfriend begins to break down in panic. It is at that moment that another voice emerges, a smaller one from the backseat: the little girl says to her mother, 'It's OK. I'm right here next to you.'

"Oh. It just hit me in the solar plexus," Faus says. "I thought, 'Oh my god. This is a call for us to do something, to be something.'"

So, he started writing. He says it was his duty.

"We've opened up such a deep wound right now," he says. "We have to stitch it up."

"I'm here next to you," by José Faus

The news came like it

comes most days now

late at night a feed

on a Facebook page

a text from a friend

a notification from sources

used to filter out truth

create a narrative to make sense 

of a world spinning counter to our hopes

It's okay

I am right here next to you

She says it softly to a mother

at last overwhelmed

soothing her and with her words

demanding we be present

stand next to each other

to fix what needs fixing

her words not the headline

but the clarion call

It's okay

I am right here

next to you

Andrea Tudhope is a freelance reporter and producer for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @adtudhope.