MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A heated city council meeting had people demanding the entire council resign, as well as the police chief, for what they believe to be racial bias problems.
The most prominent example was the shooting death of Philando Castile by then St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez last year, they told the council. Dozens packed the chambers to the point where people were standing or sitting on the floor.
The normal time limit of five minutes per person during the community forum was ignored, allowing people to speak freely. But their biggest concern is if the mayor, council and police chief are truly listening.
In a room where people could barely find a place to sit, Philando Castile’s friend John Thompson had an idea shared by many around him.
“We want them seats,” he said directly to the village officials in the front of the room. “We want you to stand up today and say you quit we want you to take your chief with you.”
Demanding a full resignation from Mayor Jerry Faust, council members and police chief Jon Mangseth was the main demand of the feverish crowd. They feel instances of racial bias, highlighted by Castile’s shooting death, haven’t been addressed.
“We want to know what the plans are to change policing practices that resulted in the death of Philando Castile — the racial profiling, the traffic stop and so on,” said Sheri Sherman.
Sherman, a St. Anthony resident, has been integral in rallying upset community members to demand change in the village.
“We decided we needed to come and have a show of force and ask questions, hard questions, and tell them that we are not satisfied,” she said.
Village officials watched intently as people gave passionate testimony. Some believe the closing of Lowry Grove — a mobile home park in town — is another example of city leaders targeting low income and minority residents. Sherman said residents were told they must leave by June 30.
“There’s been a pattern of mismanagement that exemplifies racism, sexism, classism and white privilege,” she said.
Sherman is one of the most vocal leaders in the movement, but worries the council isn’t listening to them. Still, she says that won’t stop their message from being heard.
“I ask you to remember Diamond Reynolds and her daughter tonight that this isn’t over,” another speaker said of Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend who was in the car with her daughter when Castile was shot. “You have more litigation before you.”
Many at the meeting also weren’t satisfied with the nearly $3 million settlement the city paid to Castile’s mother, Valerie — not because of the amount of money, but because they feel the payout is a reactive and not proactive way to fix the city’s problems.
“You killed my friend. you have blood on your hands sir,” Thompson said to the council. “You cannot pay enough money to bring my g– d— friend back to me.”