Mr. Phil. That’s what the kids at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul called Philando Castile. A parent called him “Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks.” Will he be remembered as the cafeteria supervisor who gave out hugs and food and love to “his” kids? Or will he be remembered as one more name in the unending litany of black men and women killed by police? Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman delivered the official story on March 30, along with piles of documents and videos available on his website. According to the official story, a complete investigation resulted in no charges because it’s tough to charge a police officer with anything and there just wasn’t enough evidence. Several people have poked giant holes in Freeman’s presentation, including his misstatements of evidence, his dismissing the importance of eyewitness testimony, his over-statement of the reliability and meaning of forensic evidence, and his use of language and rhetoric that dehumanized and denigrated Jamar Clark. Continue reading
Instead of protecting citizens, the grand jury system now shields abuse of police power.
On Jan. 6, a Texas grand jury indicted the state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland last July for perjury in filing his arrest report but not for his treatment of Bland. The Chicago-area woman was pulled over for not signaling a lane change and later found dead in her jail cell. In December, the grand jury declined to hold anyone responsible for Bland’s death. Continue reading
First, the city council refused to allow public testimony about the police shooting of Jamar Clark. Then, without notice to protesters and their supporters, a council committee voted to open its meeting to immediate public testimony about the Fourth Precinct protests. The people present and ready to testify? Opponents of the protest, of course, including Police Federation head Bob Kroll. This is not what democracy looks like. Continue reading
Nekima Levy-Pounds, Erica Mauter, Bill Lindeke, and Karen Wills: these are just a few of the eloquent voices I’ve been reading over the past week. They’ve written through the police attacks on demonstrators on November 18 and through the political and police debates going on all over the Twin Cities media. I know it’s hard to keep up with the news — just compiling the information for this post took me all of Sunday afternoon. So, if you want good information and don’t want to spend all day searching for it, here’s a brief recap of the week’s events, followed by links to and quotes from some of the best of this week’s statements and analyses. Continue reading
For all my friends who want to know what it was like, and why it was important …
The day started like a picnic at Hamline Park, with people saying hello to old friends, kids running around, and people painting last-minute protest signs. Okay, maybe family picnics don’t usually have protest signs, but the family feeling was definitely there. Old people, young people, black people, white people, Asian and Native American people, queer people, straight people, trans people, lots of Unitarians and seminarians in clerical collars, babies in strollers and people in wheelchairs. Continue reading