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Vol. 80/No. 27      July 25, 2016


Philando Castile’s mom: ‘Could be your
son tomorrow’

ST. PAUL, Minn. — “No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!” rang out at numerous demonstrations throughout the Twin Cities area in the days following the July 6 killing of Philando Castile at the hands of a police officer in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile, 32, was a supervisor at a school cafeteria and member of the Teamsters union.

Many participants had never been to a protest before. They had witnessed the live streaming video by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, of the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Castile is seen next to her in the car, covered with blood. As his life slips away, the cop who shot him, Jeronimo Yanez, continues to point his gun at Castile. “We got pulled over for a busted tail light,” Reynolds says in the video. “He’s licensed to carry [a gun]. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and he let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm.”

Since being posted to the internet, millions of people have viewed the video. Reynolds was handcuffed and imprisoned for hours after the incident. She was separated from her four-year-old daughter, who was in the backseat of the car when the shooting happened.

On the day after the killing, thousands held a vigil at the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School where Castile worked. “It was my son today. It could be your son tomorrow,” his mother, Valerie, told the multiracial crowd.

Some 300 people gathered in Minneapolis’s Loring Park July 9 answering a call from the Minneapolis NAACP. After hearing from several organizers of the march, people lined up to speak at the open microphone. Some shared their own experiences of harassment by the police and “racial profiling,” like what Castile had experienced prior to his death.

Since 2002 Castile had been pulled over at least 52 times while driving in the area, Associated Press reported, mostly for minor offenses, including speeding and driving without a muffler or not wearing a seat belt.

One participant at the open microphone said he was frustrated with years of police killings. He said that protests had not worked and the people needed to get guns and follow the example of the Dallas sniper who killed five police officers two days before. He was met with emphatic shouts of “No! No!” from the crowd. An organizer of the rally stopped him from speaking further. Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP then told the crowd that “we do not agree with that. We can’t answer violence with violence.”

That night hundreds of people marched in front of the governor’s mansion. Protest organizers then led the march to interstate highway I-94. Many followed them onto the roadway to block traffic. Marchers were joined by residents of the nearby Rondo neighborhood, a historically Black community in St. Paul. Hundreds of people lined the streets overlooking the highway and a pedestrian bridge that crossed over it. The interstate was shut down for five hours.

Some protesters threw rocks, bottles, firecrackers, rebar and pieces of concrete at the police. Police set off smoke bombs and used tear gas in efforts to clear the highway. Some protesters tried to stop others from provoking the police. This went on for several hours as protesters retreated and regrouped. More than 100 people were arrested and charged with misdemeanors and one with a felony.

Diana Newberry contributed to this article.  
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Workers’ attitudes no different in Sanders’ state
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