Philando Castile funeral: Mother wants prayers for peace

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Philando Castile’s mother says she wants his funeral to be a chance for people to come together.

And mourners were already gathering Thursday, hours before the service was set to start in a cathedral that holds 3,000 people, CNN affiliate WCCO-TV in Minneapolis reported.

In a statement, the Cathedral of St. Paul said Castile’s mother, Valerie, hopes to see “praying for peace and reconciliation” at the funeral, which is open to the public.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will attend, his office said.

A week ago, as a Facebook Live video showing the aftermath of Castile’s death drew national attention and spurred protests, Dayton didn’t mince words when he spoke to reporters about it.

“Would this have happened if the driver or the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have,” Dayton said July 7.

State authorities are investigating the death of the 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor. And more than 1,000 miles away, federal investigators are looking into another police shooting: the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Both shootings have sparked protests nationwide and debate over whether officers used excessive force. Here’s a look at the latest development in the cases:

Face to face with Obama

Cameron Sterling sobbed as he stood before reporters the day after his father’s death last week. On Wednesday, the 15-year-old was quiet and composed, calling for calm.

On Thursday, he’ll be face to face with President Barack Obama, asking him a question during ABC’s town hall on race and policing, family spokesman Ryan Julison said.

Sterling’s family hasn’t said what the teen will ask.

On Wednesday, standing outside the Baton Rouge convenience store where his father was shot dead, the teen said the shooting should unite people, not divide them.

“Everyone needs to protest in the right way — with peace, not violence,” he said. “No violence whatsoever.”

‘The system is broken’

NBA stars opened Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards ceremony in Los Angeles with a solemn statement about the “current state of America,” including the shootings of Castile and Sterling — and last week’s ambush that killed five officers at a Dallas protest.

“The violence of the last week has put a spotlight on the injustice, the distrust and anger that plagues so many of us. The system is broken. The violence is not new, and the racial divide is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high,” New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said athletes should follow in the footsteps of the late Muhammad Ali.

“But to do his legacy any justice,” he said, “let’s use this as a call to action to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence. And go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. We all have to do better.”

Protesters shut down Minneapolis freeway

Protesters spilled onto a Minnesota interstate Wednesday, using cars to block lanes and backing up rush-hour traffic for miles

Some held hands in a human chain. Others sat on the ground as they chanted, “Black Lives Matter.”

More than 40 people were arrested, state police said.

It was one of a number of demonstrations against police violence across the country Wednesday.

“Non-black allies” were responsible for Wednesday’s protest in Minneapolis, said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, which has organized rallies and protests since Castile’s death.

Police said the protesters who blocked the interstate would face charges.

“The State Patrol supports the right to exercise one’s First Amendment rights,” said Col. Matt Langer, Minnesota State Patrol chief, “but the freeway is not the place to do so.”

By Catherine E. Shoichet

CNN’s Wayne Sterling, Justin Lear, Emanuella Grinberg, Holly Yan, Joshua Berlinger, Faith Robinson, Polo Sandoval, Eliott C. McLaughlin and John Newsome contributed to this report.

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