Community In Disbelief That Minn. Man Was Killed By Police

Jul 8, 2016
Originally published on July 8, 2016 2:15 pm
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And Rachel, that protest that began so peacefully in Dallas was just one of many around the country last night. There were marches, vigils, demonstrations in response to the deaths of two African-American men this week in encounters with police, first in Baton Rouge and then in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. That's where 32-year-old Philando Castile was killed.

Large crowds calling for justice gathered in the rain outside the governor's mansion in Minnesota yesterday. The governor would speak a bit later, saying no one should be shot in their car after being pulled over for a busted taillight. And let's turn to our colleague Cheryl Corley, who is in St. Paul this morning. Hi, Cheryl.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning.

GREENE: What...

CORLEY: You know...

GREENE: ...What is the mood in that city? I mean, people have watched this Facebook Live video of this young man's girlfriend that was recorded, it seems, in the moments after his shooting inside that car.

CORLEY: Well, there's still much anger over the shooting of Mr. Castile. But, you know, for people who knew him, there's just this profound sense of disbelief, also incredible sadness. Hundreds of people came to this vigil that was held yesterday evening, filling up the schoolyard at the school where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor. And everyone who talked about him just called him a great guy. The family he made at work spoke, teachers, a cafeteria co-worker and parents whose children attend the school. And one parent in particular, Sally Rafowicz, talked about how much care Castile took with children at the school. And she talked about his demeanor, describing him as a very calm and peaceful man.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SALLY RAFOWICZ: I think kind of Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks.

(LAUGHTER)

RAFOWICZ: And my first reaction was, oh, no, not this gentle man.

CORLEY: And, David, those were the kinds of stories people told about Castile, which made his death just so difficult for many of them to accept.

GREENE: Yeah, Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks, what a lovely description. You know, Cheryl, this - I mean, this fatal shooting comes just days after Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge was shot in an encounter with police. He was known for selling illegal CDs outside a convenience store. Many people, you know, in the community seemed to know him. And this is all prompting cries for justice and raising all of these questions that have come up time and time again about what can be done about what some are viewing as hostility by the police against men of color.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS COLEMAN: It's not acceptable here in St. Paul. It's not acceptable in Baton Rouge.

(APPLAUSE)

COLEMAN: It's not acceptable in Ferguson. It's not acceptable in New York. It's not acceptable in anywhere in this country.

GREENE: And that is the voice there of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. We were talking with NPR's Cheryl Corley, who is in St. Paul, Minn., where in one suburb, a young black man, Philando Castile, was killed earlier this week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.