Anguish, anger and demands follow Philando Castile police shooting

Nathaniel Khaliq speaking at a press conference July 7.
Nathaniel Khaliq was one of the speakers at a press conference July 7. (Chris Juhn/MSR News

Change “needs to come from the streets,” stated former St. Paul NAACP president Nathaniel Khaliq in a MSR exclusive phone interview Thursday morning.

Khaliq was among those who spoke outside the Minnesota Governor’s mansion Thursday morning in St. Paul in the aftermath of the Philando Castile shooting by a St. Anthony police officer in Falcon Heights on Wednesday. Castile, who was reportedly stopped because his car had a broken taillight, was allegedly shot and killed Wednesday while reaching for his identification.

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“I’m a 73-year-old mad Black man. We are still stuck in the same damn place — my son and my grandson still have the same risk that I [had] 50-60 years ago. That’s unacceptable. I’m mad as hell.”

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During his remarks, Khaliq said it might be a “long hot summer” if nothing is done about another police-related shooting involving Blacks.  His remark immediately took off on social media.  As a result, the MSR asked him to expound on it.

Nathaniel Khaliq addressing the crowd at press conference regarding Philando Cristle shooting July 7.
Nathaniel Khaliq addressing the crowd at press conference regarding Philando Cristle shooting July 7. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

“I wasn’t advocating any violence” but rather a call for civil disobedience, he explained.  “I was advocating for exercising our constitutional rights not only to march and demonstrate but also to cause…everybody to feel some of the pain that we are feeling,” he said, including elected officials and business owners.  He joined many others who are frustrated with what appears to be another senseless death of a Black individual at the hands of police. Khaliq calls for charges to be filed against the involved officer. “He violated his civil rights and killed him,” he said.

The Castile shooting death came on the heels of the Alton Sterling shooting death also by police in Baton Rouge, La. earlier this week. Upon hearing what happened, and seeing the video posted by Castile’s girlfriend, “I nearly died,” recalled Khaliq. “I couldn’t make any sense of it.  As much as I was crying for this young brother, I was crying for this sister and that little baby sitting in the back seat that is going to carry this for the rest of her life.

“They do not respect our humanity,” said Khaliq of police officers involved in the shootings of Blacks.  He also was upset about the back-up officers who seemed more concern about the involved officer than the victim, his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.

Sign outside of Governor's mansion July 7.
Sign outside of Governor’s mansion July 7. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

A longtime community activist, Khaliq stressed the need for “systemic changes,” including firing officers who are involved in misconduct.

“This young brother [Castile] was a permit carrier [to carry a concealed weapon],” noted Khaliq, who also has a gun permit. “One of the first things, and they tell you over and over again, if you’re stopped by a police officer, inform them that you have a permit to carry and that you have a weapon.  He did that.” He also noted that the incident “wasn’t a stressful situation and [cause] to be on high alert. [The officer] should be at ease. It wasn’t a felony stop. It is a case of racial profiling,” he contended.

Khaliq, a retired St. Paul firefighter also expressed concerns about how police officers approach citizens differently based on race. When asked about more police training, especially in addressing inherent bias, he said, “I know how they [police] deal with different folk. I am sick and tired of all the training components. We’ve come up with so many different training things.   I, [Minneapolis NAACP President] Nekima [Levy-Pounds] and other folk have given sensitivity classes for these cops.

“They can still come up with some training, but the first thing they got to do is have swift, severe consequences for unacceptable behavior and nothing less,” states Khaliq.  “That will get their attention.”

He also said he supports “an accountability board” to be put in place for police officers, similar to other professions “if you can’t measure up as a police officer.”

Gov. Dayton addressing the public regarding the Philando Cristle shooting July 7.
Gov. Dayton addressing the public regarding the Philando Cristle shooting July 7. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

Gov. Mark Dayton also spoke to the crowd and told them that he asked for a federal investigation of the Castile shooting death. However, Khaliq expressed skepticism: “I’m glad he came out…[but] unless the governor holds these folk accountable, nothing is going to happen.  We’ll see what the governor will do.”

“The impetus must come from the streets,” concluded Khaliq. “These politicians are not going to do anything on their own. I think when people start feeling uncomfortable and start being inconvenient, you will see some change. I’m mad as hell!”

“I’m a 73-year-old mad Black man. We are still stuck in the same damn place — my son and my grandson still have the same risk that I [had] 50-60 years ago. That’s unacceptable. I’m mad as hell.”

More protests were planned throughout the day Thursday, as well as a press conference by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Look for more news, updates and commentary on the MSR as the story continues to unfold.

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.

See more photos below by Chris Juhn.