One more black man tragically, senselessly murdered by police. That’s what I thought last night, going to bed with Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge on my mind. Woke up this morning to find another black man senselessly murdered by police — right here. Philando Castile, St. Paul Central grad, cafeteria worker at J.J. Hill school, stopped for a broken taillight and then shot to death by the police officer. In Falcon Heights. Less than five miles from my home. What can I do? What can any of us do?
I started by just showing up at a vigil, adding my body and voice to those gathered to remember Philando Castile and to protest his killing. You can do that, too. Next up: a vigil and march organized by parents at J.J. Hill Montessori School where Philando Castile worked. They knew him. Their kids loved him. We can put our bodies there to say enough — no more police shooting of black men in our city, state, nation. You can do it, too. Just come to the school at 998 Selby Avenue in St. Paul (a few blocks east of Lexington) at 5:30.
Maybe you’ve never been to a demonstration. That’s okay. Just show up. You don’t have to bring any signs or do anything at all — just be there. And listen.
Listening is important. Listen to the anguish in the voices of Philando Castile’s family and friends. Listen to the passion of the activists who have protested one police killing after another after another. Listen to the angry preachers and activists who are NOT saying, “White people, go away,” but rather are saying, as Pastor Brian Herron did this morning: “What we need is for everyone to work together because this is for humanity.”
Diane Binns of the St. Paul NAACP said she remembers white folks in the 1960s who marched and even died for the civil rights movement. “You have to do that now,” she said. “If y’all want to believe in Minnesota Nice, get out here and stand with us.”
Over the next couple of days, I will write more about the speeches from the vigils. Because I believe we all need to listen more. We need to hear the voices of Nekima Levy-Pounds and the NAACP, of Black Lives Matter, of Black mothers and fathers and preachers and of Black millennials like Ayan Atala (sp?), who spoke this morning.
If you haven’t heard the details of the shooting, watch the video made by his girlfriend, who was in the car when the police stopped it. Or read any of the articles below:
- Vox.com http://www.vox.com/2016/7/7/12116288/minnesota-police-shooting-philando-castile-falcon-heights-video
- New York Times Philando Castile shooting in Minnesota leads governor to seek federal investigation
- Democracy Now http://www.democracynow.org/2016/7/7/you_shot_four_bullets_into_him
- Heavy Philando Castile: Five fast facts you need to know