MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Disappointment over the not guilty verdict in the trial of a St. Anthony Police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile continues to bring people together to express their feelings.
“When things like this come out it just makes people feel like they are not cared for or thought of,” one protester said.
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday outside the St. Anthony Police Department, where Officer Jeronimo Yanez worked. Organizers of the rally say they wanted to voice their frustration and come together as one in opposition to a verdict they believe was not fair.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman was at the rally in St. Anthony.
Emotions are still raw days after the not guilty verdict was read. On Sunday, a group of Minnesotans came together to announce their distrust in a system they say is not fair and does not protect people of color.
“This is deeper than racial equity issues. This is a human rights issue,” one protester said.
The crowd gathered outside the building that houses the St. Anthony Police Department. People of different faiths, color and ages came together as one to listen and voice their frustration over the acquittal of Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile.
“I lost my friend, do you think I feel good,” Castile’s best friend John Thompson said.
No one is more vocal, more emotional than Castile’s best friend, John Thompson.
“My friend did not deserve to die here in this state. Philando should be with us here today,” Thompson said.
Thompson says it’s hard for him to enjoy his Father’s Day knowing his friend never got a chance to have a child and his mother will never have a grandchild by her only son.
“This happened with Philando and when they get done they are coming for you and for you and all your interracial children, y’all are next,” Valerie Castile said after Friday’s verdict.
Many in the crowd said Valerie Castile’s words on June 16, the day Jeronimo Yanez walked out of court with no charges, cut them to their core.
“I fear for the lives of my children everyday walking down the street. Yhey could be shot down for the same thing,” one protester said.
This gathering gave all a chance to heal.
“We need to do better as a whole society,” Abdi Iman said.
And marching is to make sure people never forget the life that was taken and the pain that loss created.
“It’s a symbol of him looking down and saying he should be here, justice wasn’t served,” Iman said.
Minutes after the verdict was read, St. Anthony police fired Officer Yanez, saying the public would be better served if Yanez was no longer a police officer in the city. The Castile family is calling for the Department of Justice to look into the case.
The shooting gained national attention after Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the bloody aftermath on Facebook, prompting protests in the Twin Cities and beyond.