Funeral for Philando Castile draws hundreds to Minnesota’s St. Paul Cathedral

Memorial prayer program from funeral services for Philando Castile, killed by police July 6, 2016. (Photo Credit: Jared Goyette)

Funeral services continue for the seven people slain in last week’s spiraling racial violence which began with back-to-back police killings of black men, one in Louisiana the other in Minnesota, followed by the deaths of five Dallas area police officers at the hands of a lone gunman.

Two of the officers were laid to rest Wednesday, and another Thursday with residents lining the streets as motorcades and processions accompanied caskets to graves.

Also Thursday, in Minnesota, a horse drawn caisson carried a casket with the body of Philando Castile through the streets of St. Paul. Jared Goyette was there.

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Outside St. Paul Cathedral on Thursday, a line of people wraps around the front of the stately granite building and to the street. There are hundreds here, all streaming in to pay their last respects to Philando Castile, the 32-year-old man shot to death a week ago by a police officer during a traffic stop not far from here. The grisly aftermath of the shooting was live streamed by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who from the passenger seat recorded the final moments of his life.

Dora Jones runs a local nonprofit and had worked with both Castile and Reynolds in their search for affordable housing. The 51-year-old remembers them as good people and says the police must be held accountable.

“We pray that the police officer gets what he deserves, which is prison,” Jones said. “We hope that he gets charged with murder, we are praying that he also gets charged with racial bias. We want justice for him, for Phil, because this was absolutely uncalled for, and so we’re hoping that that’s the bottom line.”

Since the night of the shooting, a small crowd has held vigil in front of the governor’s mansion. And Governor Mark Dayton is here to attend the funeral.

“I think that this is going to bring us closer together, because the police keep killing black people, and it’s bringing everybody closer,” said 16-year-old Tashina Thompson. “At the same time it’s bringing a bunch of anger from the community because they are wondering why black people keep dying for no reason. So I think it’s going to bring the community closer in a way. It just seems like this might be the last straw.”

Minnesota state authorities are investigating Castile’s killing. His family has told local media that they hope Castile’s senseless death will bring people closer together.

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