Twin Cities Turns To Prayer After Yanez Verdict

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After hours of marches and protests, an emotional weekend across the Twin Cities has people calling on their faith to find peace.

New Creation Church in north Minneapolis hosted “Come Together Twin Cities.” It was meant for people to pray and reflect on the verdict involving the St. Anthony police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile last summer.

A jury Friday found Officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty on all three counts related to the shooting. “Come Together” is a monthly prayer vigil that started late last summer and was partially inspired by Castile’s death and other violent events. It was a way for people of different races, even religions, to speak their minds and pray for peace.

And in a time when people need to get something off their chest, often they need someone there to listen.

“Even in our confusion Lord we gather to seek your divine wisdom,” were some of the first words heard at the beginning of the vigil.

“If the color of my skin is the weapon that you fear then how can I ever be disarmed,” said an African-American man to the crowd.

In addition to having different pastor, priests, guests address the crowd, people were asked to simply talk each other about how the Yanez trial verdict made them feel.

“It’s larger than just who is right and who is wrong but how do we care for one another. And do we care for one another and I would like to think that we do care,” said Bonnie Steele, a parishioner at St. Bridget Catholic Church.

She helps organize the monthly meetings along with Father Paul Jarvis of St. Bridget and Reverend Paul Slack of New Creation.

Outside of the church walls, the emotions rang much louder on the streets and interstates across the Twin Cities over the weekend. A portion of Interstate 94 in St. Paul was shut down late Friday night because of protesters, leading to several arrests.

Another rally moved its way through downtown Minneapolis Saturday with protesters sitting on the pavement in front of the light rail station along Hennepin Avenue. Those emotions could take another turn when the dash cam footage of Castile’s death, which was shown to jurors, is released for the public to see.

“I would just ask that people view that video in light of all the other evidence in the trial because that’s what the jury did,” said attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not connected to the case. “What (the jurors) did was they took that piece of evidence and viewed it in light of all the other evidence, testimony, forensic evidence, whatever there was. So based on that, they decided still not guilty. So I would just ask that you have to take it from the jury’s perspective when they look at the entire case.”

How people will react isn’t known yet, but meetings like the one Sunday night at New Creation are giving people that chance to express themselves in a calming environment.

“We can choose to love and to care for one another and that’s what our faith calls us to do,” said Steele.

Castile’s family is calling for the Department of Justice to look into the case.

Monday night, the City of St. Paul will host a listening session at Wellstone Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement that it should provide a place for people to come together for dialogue and understanding.

More from Jeff Wagner
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