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5000 march for justice for Philando Castile in Saint Paul

By Brad Sigal |
July 8, 2016
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Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile speaking in Saint Paul
Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile speaking in Saint Paul (Fight Back! News/Staff)

St. Paul, MN – With less than 24 hours notice, 5000 people gathered July 7 for an evening vigil at J.J. Hill Elementary School, then marched to the governor’s mansion demanding justice for Philando Castile. Late the night before, video spread of a Saint Anthony police officer shooting and killing Castile during a traffic stop on Larpenteur Avenue near the state fairgrounds. The video was recorded and posted live by Castile’s girlfriend who was in the car with him, along with her 4-year-old daughter.

The vigil at J.J. Hill was called by the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) there. It was initially intended as a small gathering of people who knew Castile, but quickly grew into a massive outpouring as people chose it as the place to express their grief and outrage at the police murder of Castile. Philando Castile was a cafeteria worker at J.J. Hill since 2002. He was also a member of Teamster Local 320. Several members of Castile’s family gave powerful and emotional speeches at the vigil, including his girlfriend, mother, sister and cousin. Coworkers and some parents of students at J.J. Hill also spoke emotionally at the vigil.

The family then led the massive crowd on a march to the governor’s mansion through the residential Saint Paul streets. The night of the killing, July 6, protesters occupied the street in front of the governor’s mansion and have held it since then, making it the flashpoint for those demanding justice for Philando Castile.

At the governor’s mansion people continued chanting “No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!” among other chants. The front gate of the governor’s mansion was taped off with ‘police line’ tape and has been taken over as a makeshift stage from which speakers addressed the crowd.

The ongoing vigil blocking Summit Avenue in front of the governor’s mansion continued into the night after the July 7 vigil.