After a night of protests, violence and arrests, hundreds of men, women and children of all races gathered peacefully around the Twin Cities on Sunday in tribute to Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man who was shot and killed during a July 6 traffic stop in Falcon Heights.
About 250 people, half or more of them children, marched from Maxfield Elementary Magnet school to J.J. Hill Montessori school in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon, chanting and carrying signs. Castile, who worked as a supervisor in food service at J.J. Hill, was well known and liked by the children who saw him almost every day for nine months of the year.
“In order for a movement to happen, you need not be scared,” said William Baker, a cultural specialist at Benjamin E. Mays World School in St. Paul, whose show “Beyond the Groove” airs Saturdays on radio station KMOJ. “We have a lot of beautiful faces here. This is what a community looks like.”
Allie Turay Jr. and Kristina Perkins attended the march with their 10-month-old son, Nelson. “We came out here because we had to,” Turay said. “If you teach love and acceptance early, you can get ahead of the problem. If you put the kids out front, the cops might think twice. With everything going on, I worry about my safety and his. You can’t sit idle, you have to go out and fight for it.”
Hip-hop at Capitol
A quickly arranged rap and hip-hop music festival on the State Capitol lawn drew families and groups of friends carrying blankets and lawn chairs.
Isaac Peterson of 10K Collective said he had the idea for the fest Thursday morning.
“This is not a protest,” he said. “It’s just a place where people can get together and enjoy each other’s culture.”
Nobody in the audience carried signs or chanted slogans.
About a dozen groups were scheduled to perform, including Big Wiz, Neko DeShawn, Aym Telos and Doomtree. The crowd swelled from about 150 people to about 300 when hip-hop group Doomtree Collective performed about 3:30 p.m. They finished a sound check for a show Sunday night at Sociable Cider Werks in northeast Minneapolis, then headed to the Capitol.
“Man, it’s been a miserable year,” Stef Alexander told the crowd. “All I know how to do is rap and be a good dude, so that’s what we’re gonna do.”
DeShawn, 26, of St. Paul, said, “The big picture of why I’m out here is the things going on in our community and around the world. I’m trying to be a positive part of this call, spread a little [love].”
“It could be me in those positions, as an African-American young man from the inner city,” he said. “I’m irate. Philando Castile is the cousin of one of my best friends, so this hit close to me. For it to be 2016, with this still going on today, it’s appalling.”
‘People are rising up’
The first thing Monique Cullars-Doty told the crowd of about 200 gathered in front of St. Anthony City Hall on Sunday afternoon was, “We are out here as one.”
The group gathered on Silver Lake Road, where the city’s Police Department, City Hall and community center are under the same roof. They chanted, prayed and applauded as speakers called for justice and change at the 2 p.m. rally. Then they marched past barricades and through traffic before heading back to City Hall.
Cullars-Doty, the aunt of Marcus Golden, a 24-year-old who was fatally shot by St. Paul police last year, said she feels the pain of the Castile family and grieves alongside them.
“This man was killed,” Cullars-Doty said. “It is completely unacceptable, and we have to send a message that the people are rising up.”
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, told the crowd to use their voices to “demand justice.”
“Enough is enough,” Levy-Pounds said. “We cannot wait until the next person is killed. And believe me, somebody else will be killed. They will because they have not changed the system. We need significant changes.”
Local singer Mayyadda ended the speech portion of the rally with a song: “Is there any place we can be young, black and free? Old, black and free? Just black and free?”
Vigil in St. Paul
On Sunday night, about 200 people gathered outside the governor’s residence to hear a group of speakers — one an impassioned 11-year-old girl — implore them to continue the fight for justice.
They also sought to send the message that the violence that occurred along Interstate 94 on Saturday night was not the work of protesters, but of “outside agitators.”