Knoxville black community holds vigil, blocks Gay Street, for 2 men killed by police

Protestors block Gay street during Vigil for Justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knoxville black community held a vigil Friday for two black men that were killed by police, blocking Gay Street for a time.

A Minnesota officer on Wednesday fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child. The aftermath of the shooting was livestreamed in a widely shared Facebook video. A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers. That, too, was captured on a cellphone video.

Organizers said the vigil was planned for 6:00 p.m. at Krutch Park in Downtown Knoxville. They invited all African-Americans to support ourselves, heal, mourn, love, rage, and express ourselves in whatever they need to.

“Although we are gathering together in reaction to the latest traumatic events, this will be a space of resilience,” said organizers. “We have seen racist violence claim the lives of countless black folks and each time we allowed white supremacy to go unchallenged, or failed to speak out against the white supremacist police state, we put Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and all black folks at greater risk.”

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All others that would like to support the black community were asked to meet in a separate location at the stage at Market Square at 6:00 p.m. for a solidarity action. At 7:00 p.m. everyone met back up together for a continued joint action.

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