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
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
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
Someone called police early Sunday morning. Domestic assault, they said. Paramedics helping the victim, and a man interfering with them, they said. Did he want to talk? To fight? Maybe even to apologize? We don’t know. We do know that police acted, taking Jamar Clark away from the paramedics. Minutes later, the 24-year-old black man lay on the ground with a police bullet in his head. Continue reading