After Philando: Have Protests Changed?
by Kate Havelin

Two years after a police officer fatally shot Philando Castile, the protests, pain, anger and backlash continue to reverberate.

A quick recap:

Within hours of Castile’s killing, Gov. Mark Dayton told a crowd outside the Governor’s Mansion he didn’t think Castile would have been shot at a traffic stop if he had been white. Police union officials and some Republican lawmakers assailed Dayton for what they called his rush to judgement.

Within days, protesters blocked Interstate 94; more than a hundred were arrested; dozens charged with misdemeanor riot. Later in July, another 70 protesters were arrested for continuing to occupy space outside the Governor’s Mansion.

The Science Museum posted a small sign honoring Philando Castile by its “RACE: Are We So Different” exhibit, and critics slammed the museum for “taking sides.” The museum promptly removed the sign.

For the past two years, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed bills increasing penalties on protesters with fines of up to $1,000 and a year in jail. Governor Dayton vetoed those bills, which the ACLU-MN testified would have chilled Minnesotans’ rights to protest.

Now, the ACLU-MN is appealing one protester’s misdemeanor public nuisance conviction. Some protesters arrested outside the Governor’s Mansion are still awaiting trial.

In the two years since Diamond Reynolds live-streamed Philando’s last moments, many community members have worked to learn and heal. This month, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is showcasing an exhibit, “Art and Healing: In the Moment,” featuring posters, paintings, sculpture, video and a mural focused on Philando Castile and how his killing has touched people.

While the community works to heal, protests about racial injustice and many other issues have swelled — as have the angry reactions to those protesting. From the controversy over crowd size at the anti-inaugural protests to this month’s Families Belong Together, each demonstration seems to trigger a counter-protest, a continuing volley of action and then re-action.

Recently, after Rep. Maxine Waters encouraged protesters to challenge Cabinet officials anytime they show up at restaurants, shops or other public places, Waters faced a torrent of opposition. The president insulted her; conservatives alleged she was inciting mob violence. Leaders of her own party refused to back her up, and op-eds and calls for “civility” have mushroomed.

What does civility mean in an era of repeated attacks on civil rights and our country’s Constitution? Since Philando’s killing and this divisive president, have people become more or less tolerant of protest? More or less willing to take to the street in protest?

East Side Freedom Library will host a discussion with civil rights activists on how Philando’s killing has influenced protesters, police, courts, and Minnesota. All welcome to hear and talk with ACLU-MN’s Legal Director Teresa Nelson and Saint Paul and Saint Paul’s Community-First Public Safety Initiatives Director Jason Sole.

After Philando: Have Protests Changed?
Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, Saint Paul 55106

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