This Vigil For Philando Castile Will Honor The Man Who Was "Wiser, Warmer, Kinder, More Gentle" Than Anyone
Hours after the death of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, at the hands of police, Diamond Reynolds pointed at one of the reporters surrounding her and sobbed, "It could have been you." She pointed at another: "It could have been you." A third, and forth: "Or you. Or you ... It could have been any of us!" she cried. Reynolds, her boyfriend, and her daughter had been pulled over in a traffic stop, during which Castile was fatally shot. Reynolds pulled out her phone and live-streamed the aftermath. "I want justice," she sobbed on Thursday morning. Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul, where those who knew him described him as a warm, kind, and gentle.
In an email to Bustle Thursday morning, J. J. Hill parent Sally Rafowicz wrote of Castile: "You could not ask for a wiser, warmer, kinder, more gentle man. Smiling. Responsible. A manager. Greeting children by name. Helping the kid who struggles with that morning transition."
Rafowicz says that the school, which has more than 400 pupils, is organizing a vigil Thursday night in honor of Castile. "We want to make clear that hundreds of lives, many of them children, have had a hole ripped through them because an officer saw Phil's skin and not his humanity," Rafowicz says, noting that Castile interacted with almost all members of the school twice per day. "Parents and staff are horrified."
"Lunch ladies and lunch men provide more glue than people realize," Rafowicz continues. "He was also the manager of a complex system of ordering and preparing free breakfasts and school lunch .. We are a school of great ethic and racial diversity, and we love — loved — this important member of our school community."
"My two youngest children attend the school that Philando Castile worked at," parent Rebecca Penfold Murray writes in an email to Bustle. "He was a lovely man. He showed up each day for hundreds of children and attended to their nutrition and needs. He was one of the first adults each of these kids saw each day, and he was gentle, affectionate, attentive, and present for these children ... This was a terrific, gentle, professional, and caring human being."
According to Castile's uncle, who spoke to The New York Daily News, Castile had worked at the school for more than a decade. "They took a good man," Castile's mother, Valerie, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Thursday. "A hard-working man. He worked since he was 18 years old."
Castile would have turned 33 just a few days from now.
In the video that was live-streamed to Facebook, Reynolds says to a police officer, “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him ... You shot four bullets into him, sir." She added, "He was just getting his license and registration, sir."
In an interview with CNN, Castile's mother, Valerie, noted, “My son was a law-abiding citizen and he did nothing wrong ... I think he was just black in the wrong place.” Minnesota police have confirmed that the shooting occurred, but have not released an official statement or named the officers involved.
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