In Loring Park, protesters rally for justice in fatal shooting of Philando Castile

A group of over a hundred marched from Loring Park through downtown Minneapolis to protest the death of Philando Castile.

President of the Minneapolis NAACP, Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks to a large crowd at a rally in support of Philando Castile at Loring Park on July 9.

Kelsey Christensen

President of the Minneapolis NAACP, Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks to a large crowd at a rally in support of Philando Castile at Loring Park on July 9.

by Raj Chaduvula

Over a hundred protesters gathered in Loring Park Saturday to stand in solidarity after the death of Philando Castile.

The rally, led by Nekima Levy-Pounds — president of Minneapolis’s chapter of the NAACP — and other leaders in the community demanded changes to the criminal justice system; in addition, the demonstrators advocated for increased accountability among police departments, nationwide.

Philando Castile was shot in Falcon Heights on Wednesday night by a St. Anthony police officer. The aftermath of the shooting was recorded live on Facebook by Philando Castille’s girlfriend, Diamond Reylonds,  which has since garnered national attention.

Rachel Lovejoy, a protestor at the rally, said she was attracted to the rally because of its message.

“The rally is about atonement for past mistakes and reaffirming our commitment to right the wrongs that have been committed,” she said.

Also in attendance at the rally was the Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Committee.

“We’re standing for justice…[MIRAC tries] to show support for anyone struggling with racism,” said Brad Sigal, a volunteer with MIRAC and protestor at the event.

Sigal said the Castile shooting was shocking but nothing new, noting the history of oppression African Americans have faced in this country. He said shootings and violence — like that against Castile — needs to stop.

“The only way it’s going to stop is if people organize and demand change,” Sigal said. 

Jason Sole, an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University, said the rally was meant to bring awareness to the inherent discrimination people of color face — especially in the justice system, and institutions such as healthcare and education.

Protestors were encouraged to wear red shirts to the rally to symbolize the blood shed in countless police-involved shootings, Sole said.

At the rally, protestors held signs that read “#SilenceIsViolence,” and a Minnesota license plate that read “Shame.”

“I’m tired of people feeling unsafe,” Levy-Pounds said at the rally.

After speeches by community leaders and personal anecdotes shared by attendees, the rally turned into a march down Hennepin Avenue as protestors chanted “No justice! No peace! Prosecute the police!”

A rally was also planned Saturday night in front of Gov. Mark Dayton’s St. Paul residence, which has been occupied by protesters since news spread about Castile’s death last Wednesday night.

“I’m thankful…we’re here to say we won’t take it anymore … we pledge to do better,” Levy-Pounds said at the rally.