Protests continue following death of Philando Castile

Published 11:01 am Monday, July 11, 2016

By Minnesota Public Radio News staff

days after Philando Castile died after being shot by a St. Anthony police officer, groups continued to gather and march in the St. Paul area.

About 400 people participated in a “children’s march” from Maxfield Elementary School to J.J. Hill Montessori School Sunday morning.

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The march was in response to the violent events of the previous days, including the shooting of Castile, a 32-year-old African-American man from St. Paul who worked at J.J. Hill. The group was led by some 150 children followed by friends and parents. The children chanted and many talked about their wishes for peace.

Black Lives Matter St Paul leader Rashad Turner congratulated the marchers, and told them to stick to their principles, “because as we’ve all seen on the news last night, the protests had some outside agitators who came and were throwing rocks at the police.” He went to to tell the crowd, “I want all you youngsters to know that violence is never OK. So we have to make sure that when we are protesting, we are protesting peacefully.”

The Rev. Danny Givens, who spoke earlier this week in front of the governor’s mansion, preached to a crowd of about 75 at Above Every Name and Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul.

“One way or another, we are going to get justice,” Givens said over and over.

Basing his comments on the Bible, he said that the black community will do whatever it takes to gain equality, and called on white people to come forward and help.

At a press conference with the family of the two children, a 2-year-old and a 15-month-old, shot in north Minneapolis, Givens called on the perpetrator to come forward. The 2-year-old died, his sister was hospitalized but was expected to survive. Givens said both are his cousins.

Demonstrators on Sunday brought the protest over the killing of Castile to the station of the police officer that shot him.

Hundreds of people gathered in the blazing sun on Silver Lake Road in front of the St. Anthony Village City Hall. The rally featured singing, chants and the unrolling of a scroll listing people that had been killed by police.

The speakers included Teto Wilson, one of the witnesses to the shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis in November. Wilson, who is black, told the crowd that his daughter had told him she was so concerned about police violence that she feared to have children herself.

Nekima Levy-Pounds, the head of the NAACP in Minneapolis also spoke. “We know that things are bad, and we knew they were bad before Jamar Clark was killed,” Levy-Pounds said. “So we told them that there is blood on your hands for failing to do nothing. And you’re sitting in the seat of power. It’s unacceptable. So what we have to do is to continue to fight back.”

The crowd ended the rally with a short march from the St. Anthony City Hall down Silver Lake Boulevard and back. The city’s police force also serves the cities of Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, and it was a traffic stop in Falcon Heights that ended with St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting Castile on Wednesday. The shooting is under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

There was no visible police presence at the Sunday rally although police provided traffic control assistance for the march. St. Anthony also said it has canceled its regular City Council meeting on Tuesday: “The decision to cancel the July 12th meeting was made after reviewing public safety and other issues related to recent events in the community, as well as city and staff resources,” said a notice on the city website.

At the same time in St. Paul, hundreds of people gathered on the Capitol Mall for a musical event called “Support at the Capitol,” where dozens of Minnesota singers and spoken word artists performed.

Promoter Isaac Peterson said it was designed to give people a chance to gather apolitically. With several protests and other events going on around the area, Peterson said he believes people are seeking community.

“We have people out here crying. I mean it’s crazy, it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s exactly as it should be. … This is more than I would ever have imagined.”