In a press conference about the murder of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights last night, members of the Minnesota chapters of Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, the ACLU, and other organizations called out the institutional racism that pervades a state often seen as a bastion of progressive liberalism and heralded for its “Minnesota nice.”
“What this signals to us is black lives don’t really matter in the state of Minnesota,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP, who also called the state the “Jim Crow North.” She added, “There is a culture here that puts their foot on the backs of people of color.”
The press conference, held outside Governor Mark Dayton’s mansion, was a display of raw emotion and pain after Castile’s death. But it was also an indictment of a state system that only works for a few. “I’m sick and tired of Minnesota being ranked at the top for all these quality of life issues that affect white folks, and the appearance of the Promiseland—but it hasn’t been the Promiseland for us,” said Nathaniel Khaliq, a past president of the St. Paul NAACP.
Minnesota is 85 percent white. While 8 percent of white Minnesotans live in poverty, the number jumps to 35 percent for African-American Minnesotans. The median household income for white Minnesotans is $64,100, compared to $28,800 for African-American Minnesotans.
Castile’s death comes only a couple months after the announcement that officers involved in the 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis would not be indicted. After Clark’s death, protesters occupied the city’s Fourth Precinct—near the site of the shooting—for over two weeks. Today, the community, with chants of “no justice, no peace,” demanded this time be different. “This time it’s going to be a long, long, hot summer,” Khaliq said.