Philando Castile Funeral: Thousands In Attendance with Pallbearers Raise Fists
*A funeral was held Thursday for Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota. The 32-year-old cafeteria supervisor was shot several times during a July 6 traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, and the aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend – bringing instant international attention to his killing and the issue of police shootings of African Americans. Faith leaders and relatives of Philando Castile shared words of hope and encouragement to “stay strong” during a 90-minute funeral ceremony on Thursday for the black Minnesota man killed by a police officer during a traffic stop last week.
Mourners filled the 3,000-seat Cathedral of St Paul to pay their respects to 32-year-old Castile, whose white casket arrived and left on a horse-drawn carriage. After the ecumenical service ended, people lined up on either side of the cathedral’s long stairs holding “Unite for Philando” signs as pallbearers dressed in white raised clenched fists while carrying out his casket. Castile was shot several times during a 6 July traffic stop in the St Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath live on Facebook.
The Rev John Ubel, rector of the Catholic cathedral that overlooks downtown St Paul, said the day would prove to have been a good one if it brought people of different backgrounds together and gave them a “tiny measure of peace”. Castile’s uncle, Clarence, said his nephew was a “young, loving, handsome, giving, caring individual”, while encouraging the congregation to “stay strong for Phil”.
“I’m just amazed at how many people care about Philando and care about what happened to him,” Clarence Castile told the room.
The funeral program included notes from Castile’s family, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.“My brother, my hero, your heart was so pure and solid as gold … I love you forever and your legacy will continue to live on,” wrote Castile’s sister, Allysza. “You made history, you opened their eyes.”
In his eulogy, the Rev Steve Daniels Jr of Shiloh Missionary Baptist church questioned why racial profiling still occurred in the US He said he grew up in Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s and understood the frustrations expressed by today’s protesters in response to police shootings of black people.
They want to feel respected, valued and are tired of being “wrongfully murdered”, Daniels said. He said he was thankful for police and their service but said that people needed to find a way to work together.In a statement issued ahead of the funeral, the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis said it was honored that Castile’s mother, Valerie, wanted the funeral to be an opportunity for “people to come together in a new way”.
“At this difficult moment we feel privileged to have the opportunity to offer hospitality to the Castile family and to our hurting community,” the statement said. “We are praying that our cathedral might serve as a place where all might encounter a God who offers consolation and hope.” Governor Mark Dayton, who has suggested that race played a role in Castile’s death, attended, as did US senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and congressman Keith Ellison. The burial service after the ceremony was private, the Tribune reported, and a reception was planned later on Thursday at the school where Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor.