Hundreds of teachers joined community activists in a march and rally Tuesday afternoon in Minneapolis to protest the death of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot July 6 by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop.
Union members from the Minneapolis and St. Paul Federation of Teachers, as well as other union educators from around the country, gathered at the Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis, then marched to U.S. Bank headquarters at 800 Nicollet Mall, where they planted themselves on 8th Street in protest of bank policies they say hurt education and minority Americans.
After police warned demonstrators that they needed to get off the street, most moved to the sidewalk. But a circle that included 21 people remained in place, their arms linked. Police moved in to arrest them about 6:20 p.m., securing them in plastic handcuffs one by one. Those being arrested — including union officers and a clergyman — were cheered by fellow protesters.
Minneapolis police confirmed all 21 arrested received a public nuisance citation, a misdemeanor, and were released.
Before the rally, Jessica Kearns, of St. Paul, chanted with her two black sons, who held up signs saying “Don’t shoot! I am your future.” Kearns said she has begun having hard conversations with the boys, ages 7 and 4, about racial bias.
The marchers invoked the names of Castile, a 32-year-old St. Paul Area Schools cafeteria supervisor, and others killed in encounters with police officers and chanted, “From the schools to the streets, we want justice, we want peace.” A banner held by group leaders said “Teachers4BlackLives.”
Dozens of Chicago educators, in town for the biennial American Federation of Teachers conference at the Convention Center, marched with local Teamsters to honor victims of police brutality.
Michael Brunson, secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union, said he hopes people who argue that protesters should say “All lives matter” understand that “If the house on the corner is burning, you don’t call the fire department to hose down every other house. Our house is burning.”
Brunson also expressed concern about the killing of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La. “We’re starting to see a vicious cycle — people who are wanting to make things right with another wrong,” he said.
U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, Minnesota’s largest banks, were singled out for allegedly financing private prisons and helping cities pay off police misconduct settlements.
“It is time to demand that financial institutions like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo stop profiting off the lives of people of color,” said Michelle Wiese, President of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. Wiese was among those willingly arrested Tuesday.
Black church leaders from across the Twin Cities came together Tuesday night in north Minneapolis to preach unity among the faithful against violence that has gripped Minnesota and the rest of the country in recent weeks.
The rousing, two-hour Unity Service brought together about 400 worshipers and leaders of the Twin Cities African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baptist churches, the Church of God in Christ, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and other ministries.
Staff writer Pat Pheifer contributed to this report.