Rest In Peace: Thousands Gather To Honor Alton Sterling & Philando Castille
Thousands gathered Friday to mourn the death of Alton Sterling, whose death at the hands of white police officers sparked renewed protests across the country demanding an end to police violence.
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In a funeral that was part home-going celebration and part declaration on what’s been going on in our country, Sterling’s family and a slew of speakers said sweet, sorrowful goodbyes while calling for justice. Poems were read. Sermons were spun. Calls to action were pronounced.
“America needed to see who God was using as a sacrifice,” Elvin Sterling Jr., a relative of the dead man, said during the service at Southern University in Baton Rouge. “To open the eyes of America.”
Sterling was one of two black men killed by police on back-to-back days last week, including Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn. In death, the two become the backdrop for the Black Lives Matter movement and people across the country fighting for change to the way African-Americans are policed in America.
Nearly 3,000 people flocked to Castile’s funeral Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. The mood was somber, but filled with “energy and action” as one Many people embraced and hugged each other as they looked at Castile’s white casket and the arrangement of red and white roses that rested over it.
The service included remarks from Catholic priest the Rev. John Ubel and also the Rev. Dr. Steve Daniels Jr. from Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.
“We have the death of an innocent black man whose life was taken at the hands of an officer due to his wide-set nose,” said Daniels. “Racially profiled, pulled over for a broken taillight, shot multiple times next to his fiancée and her 4-year-old daughter. Thank God that they were not struck by some of those bullets.”
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It was the only mention of the tragic chain of events that led to Castile’s death and the reports that police stopped him on that tragic night because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. All the details surrounding his death are still under investigation.
In a statement, the Cathedral of St. Paul said Castile’s mother, Valerie, hoped to see “praying for peace and reconciliation” at the funeral, which was open to the public.
For more on what you can do in honor of these men, click here.