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After Philando Castile shooting, questions about race, police and accountability

At Milda's café, an institution in North Minneapolis, emotions were still raw for some on Saturday morning, just days after Philando Castile’s shooting death by a police officer.

In the wake of Castile's death, black and white church groups ponder violence in their city

'We're in a time where folks are done talking. We've been doing that - civil rights movement, all that type of stuff - but history is repeating itself,' says Minneapolis resident 2:51

At Milda's café, an institution in north Minneapolis, emotions were still raw for some on Saturday morning, just days after Philando Castile's shooting death by a police officer.

Castile, a 32-year-old black man, died this week after he was shot to death by St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, captured the aftermath of the shooting on a video streamed on Facebook.

Milda's has been around in north Minneapolis — an area that has long struggled with poverty and violence — since the 1960's. Owner Aymen Samie says it's a place where the black and white community come together peacefully for good food and conversation. He says you won't find another place like it in the city.

But after so much violence in the space of only a few days, the breakfast crowd from both communities seemed as much united in grief as they were divided in defining the cause. Talk about Castile's death has left many with questions about racial profiling, accountability and whether justice will be served.

'Angry, pissed off, frustrated'

Curtis Coats, who comes to Milda's with a group of men from his church, says he's worried it could all spiral out of control.

Curtis Coats, who regularly eats at Milda's cafe with friends from church, says he's angry and frustrated by Philando Castile's shooting death. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

He says he's "angry, pissed off, frustrated."

His friends and faith offer support, he says, helping him when the anger takes over.

He says there needs to be more transparency in the legal system and that "people should be held accountable."

Coats says what happened in Dallas, where five officers were killed by a sniper and others were injured, isn't right.

Sitting across the table, his friend Leroy King Jr. says it's not anger he feels, but numbness.

"It's kind of like these are the times, unfortunately, that we live in ... and that's the kind of approach that I've taken. I'm not bitter, I'm not mad, I'm not angry... It's not 'another angry black man.'"

He says we've seen this before and thinks we're going to see it again.

Milda's cafe, which has been operating for decades, has become a gathering place for people in North Minneapolis. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

King says he's got no ill feelings towards the police department, that it would be a "vigilante society" if they weren't in place — but he thinks some "humanitarian discussions need to take place. I think there's a level of accountability that needs to happen."

On the other side of the restaurant, a church group from one of Minneapolis's more affluent white suburbs is enthusiastically going over the menu. It's their first time at Milda's, but Mary Engelke explains it's more than just a chance to socialize over pancakes and eggs.

She says her group came to the community as part of their church's outreach. When conversation turns to the shooting of Castile and others, Engelke says she's sad and heartbroken, but she thinks people should be careful not to jump to conclusions.

"I know there was a lot that happened before that video started, and I think that too many people jump to conclusions," she says. "There's always more to the story than what the media shows, a lot more to the story."

'I believe there's profiling as well'

On the opposite side of the table the group's pastor, Howard Bell, says nothing much has changed in decades.

Howard Bell, a pastor, says the neighbourhood around Milda's hasn't changed much. 'This area has had a long history of racial divide, of economic divide, of police scrutiny, and I believe there's profiling as well,' he says. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

He says he lived in about 10 blocks from the café in the 70s, and that the neighbourhood was bad then and "it's bad today." 

"I mean, some of us aren't affected by it, when we live in the suburbs or we live in other areas, but this area is certainly affected differently, I believe, than we may be in other parts of the city."

"This area has had a long history of racial divide, of economic divide, of police scrutiny, and I believe there's profiling as well."

Back at Curtis Coats's table, Louis Tillman believes something urgently has to be done before the community ignites. He says "things are heating up … we're really in a time where folks are done talking. We've been doing that, civil rights movement, all that type of stuff, but history's repeating itself."