Thursday evening saw Minnesotans hit the streets to protest the death of Philando Castile, a black man from St. Paul who killed by police in the quiet suburb of Falcon Heights on Wednesday.
Castile's death, footage of which was broadcast across Facebook by his girlfriend Lavish Reynolds, set off a firestorm of controversy in the Twin Cities and across America. People turned out in force to honor Castile, and demand justice on his behalf.
Protests in St. Paul had begun early Thursday morning at the Falcon Heights intersection of Larpenteur and Fry, where Castile, Reynolds, and her daughter were pulled over by the St. Anthony police officer who would ultimately end Castile's life. Around 50 people gathered at the spot, including Corydon Nilsson, an organizer with Black Lives Matter St. Paul, who told local alt weekly City Pages that he'd headed to the spot immediately after watching Reynold's footage of the shooting.
Protesters later moved south to gather at Minnesota's Governor's mansion, where by 2 a.m. approximately 200 people gathered to chant, sing, and block traffic down St. Paul's posh Summit Avenue.
The protesters were later joined by Reynolds, making her first pubic appearance since Castile's death. There, she described the night he was killed, and explained that she'd broadcast the footage of his death "so that the people could see" for themselves what had happened.
In the afternoon, protests outside the governor's mansion swelled once again, with speakers addressing the crowd while standing in front of a large banner draped over the property's imposing gates.
The Parent-Teacher Association for JJ Hill Montessori school, where Castile was a beloved cafeteria employee, announced plans for an evening vigil, calling it a "space for you to star memories and honor [Castile's] life" with "others who are grieving the loss of our own."
Ahead of the vigil, a Black Lives Matter sign was placed at the entrance to JJ Hill, with a smaller, handwritten note proclaiming "You Matter Philando" attached to its side.
While the vigil was originally conceived of as a forum for members of the school community to express their grief together, attendance quickly ballooned, as mourners from across the Twin Cities came together to grieve.
Addressing the crowd, one JJ Hill parent broke down in tears as she described Castile as "Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks."
In attendance was Valerie Castile, Philando's mother, who thanked the crowd for honoring her son, telling them: "He would be so proud to see how many people are supporting him under these unfortunate circumstances."
"He lived by the law, but he died by the law," she added later. "There's got to be a time when we all come together as a nation of people and demand that this stops."
Also in attendance was St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, who told the crowd:
I want to simply apologize to this community, to this family. To those that have lost a loved one, a brother, a son. A coworker, someone that they care for deeply. This is not acceptable. It's not acceptable here in St. Paul. It's not acceptable in Baton Rouge. It's not acceptable in Ferguson. It's not acceptable in New York. It's not acceptable anywhere in this country.
After the vigil concluded, Castile's family lead the crowd on a half-mile walk to the governor's mansion, chanting "if Philando don't get it—shut it down!" and "No justice. No peace. Prosecute the police!" along the way.
A group of protestors also staged traffic-blocking "die in" at the busy intersection of Selby and Lexington.
Others opted to protest at the site of Castile's death, in neighboring Falcon Heights.
Outside the Governor's St. Paul mansion, the street was covered with chalking from the day's ongoing protests and rallies.
Carrying signs, waving banners, and chanting at the top of their voices, protestors filled Summit Avenue with bodies once again as they crowded outside the Governor Mike Dayton's residence.
There, the crowd was met by Dayton, who came out of the house to speak with Castile's mother, Valerie.
However, Dayton's appearance outside the Governor's mansion gates was relatively short.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, Governor Dayton spoke to the press about Philando Castile's death, saying he was "appalled on all levels" by the shooting. "Would this have happened if … the driver and passenger were white?" Dayton asked. "I don't think it would've."
As the rally continued into the evening, the rain which had sprinkled protesters throughout the day let up, and was replaced by a brilliant rainbow across the St. Paul sky. Mused one Twitter user "Gotta be Philando smiling down."
Late in the evening, a group of protestors peeled away from the main rally at the Governor's mansion, and began marching North. They stopped at the intersection of Lexington and University, fanning out to block car and light rail traffic.
After moving west, protestors chanted “no justice, no peace," and held hands in the street as cars and trains stood by
Protesters continued west, stopping at Snelling avenue, one of St. Paul’s busiest arteries.
After blocking the intersection for approximately 20 minutes, some protesters began returning to Governor Dayton’s home, where several hundred rally attendees reportedly remained.
Other protesters moved north, chanting the lyrics to Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," as they headed toward the site where Philando Castile was killed.
At approximately 10:30 local time protesters arrived at the intersection of Snelling and Larpenteur, just east of where Philando Castile was shot only 24 hours before.
Minutes later, after nearly two hours of marching through the streets of St. Paul and Falcon Heights, the group arrived at the corner of Larpenteur and Fry, where they gathered to mourn.
By early Friday morning the mood outside the governor’s mansion turned sour, as protesters clashed with police, with reports of rocks being thrown and at least one window smashed
The tense situation eventually deescalated, as police stood down, and protesters returned to the governor’s mansion.
This post is being updated as new information becomes available.