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Funeral Held For Philando Castile In Minnesota


It's another day of funerals. In Dallas, family and friends said goodbye to Sergeant Michael Smith. He was one of the five police officers killed last week at the end of a protest over police brutality. And in St. Paul, Minn., a horse-drawn carriage carried a white casket to St. Paul Cathedral.


SHAPIRO: The body of Philando Castile was inside. He was one of the men whose death at the hands of police touched off last week's protests. His girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of his killing. Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Nelson was outside St. Paul Cathedral, and he joins us now. Hi, there.


SHAPIRO: Describe the mood and the scene at the funeral today.

NELSON: Well, Ari, this happened in a magnificent hilltop, granite-clad cathedral that dates back to 1907. It has this huge 180-foot tall dome and seats 3,000 people. It's one of the state's most prominent buildings. And this may be the closest thing Minnesota has to offer to a full-state funeral.

And Governor Mark Dayton and both U.S. senators from Minnesota were in the pews at the front today. It was standing room only through the rest of the sanctuary. The pews were filled with a mix of black and white, Latino and other mourners, although it looked to be mostly black mourners in the crowd.

The service was bracketed with some of the traditions of Catholic liturgy, but the core of this service was a full-throated Baptist preacher's performance with rousing music. One song had a refrain - you are royalty. I wish I could play some of it back for you, but they didn't allow cameras or recorders in the service.

SHAPIRO: You know, many people have expressed anger at the relationship between police and the black community all around the country. Did anyone speak to that anger at the funeral today?

NELSON: They did, although in a way that is much more subdued than the marches we've seen in the streets and the demonstrations that have blocked freeways here. Pastor Steve Daniels of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church told the crowd that Philando Castile was an example of what's wrong with this country.

He said that Castile was a hard-working young man, a school cafeteria supervisor, wasn't resisting arrest or selling things on the street. Daniel said he felt Castile was simply obeying the law and minding his own business, but race and racial profiling intervened. I talked to the pastor after the service, and here's what he had to say.

STEVEN DANIELS: Well, he was a sacrifice. He was a martyr. His life, I truly believe, was chosen for this purpose and for this time to awaken the nation.

NELSON: And he said that he thought that Philando was fruit for a change. And that change would be the different relationship with the police in the community. He wanted to heal the division with law enforcement and urged people not to give in to hate and distrust.

SHAPIRO: And what about his family? What have they said about where they plan to go from here?

NELSON: Well, we know his family has hired a prominent attorney from Atlanta and says they may file a federal lawsuit. At this hour, the family's hosting a picnic with, I believe, hamburgers and hot dogs at the elementary school where Philando was a cafeteria worker. His family said he truly cared for the kids, and this last meal is a symbol that he was a nourisher and provider.

SHAPIRO: That's Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Nelson covering the funeral of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn., today. Thank you, Tim.

NELSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tim Nelson

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