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
Police reform is simultaneously vitally important and relatively useless. Vitally significant: as Ijeoma Oluo demands, we need to work for police reform “every day like your life depends on it – ours actually does.” And relatively useless, because policing in America is embedded in and represents a culture and society that remain deeply racist and that culture and society must change or no police reform will succeed. Continue reading
We need police reform, but, bottom line: police reform is not enough. Just like passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the 1965 Voting Rights Act was not enough. Not enough — because reforming police practices, policies, training will not end racism. But saying police reform is not enough does not mean that such reform is not needed, not essential, not potentially life-saving. Police reform is not THE solution, but reforms are some of the necessary steps along the road to solutions. Continue reading
Mr. Phil. That’s what the kids at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul called Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police on Wednesday night. Thursday night, his school family held a vigil for him. This is not the way he should be famous, someone said. This is not how he should be remembered.A parent called him “Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks.” Fellow staff members said Mr. Phil was patient and kind and caring. Mr. Phil loved his job and all of “his” kids in the school. Mr. Phil gave them breakfast and hugs and direction. “Everything Mr. Phil did in this school was for the kids,” another parent said. 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