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His Eyes 'Spoke Life': Friend Remembers Philando Castile


After today's rally in St. Paul, we reached Pastor Danny Givens who you just heard in that report. He says Philando Castile was like a relative to him, and I asked Pastor Givens to describe his friend.

DANNY GIVENS: Philando was - how can I describe this? You know, it was just - he had - there was so many amazing qualities about this young man that it's hard to believe this happened. I mean he was the kind of man - he had eyes that just spoke life to, you know? He saw you, and he saw you. And you felt seen by him, you know? When he acknowledged you, you felt like you mattered, like you meant something to him at that moment and just was very even-keeled, you know, mild-tempered, well-mannered. It's like, just a good guy to be around, you know, was great with kids.

I mean, there wasn't people that - I don't know too many people - I don't know anybody that didn't like him. And not that, you know, for people who, you know, may be a little or may be obstinate or, you know, defiant - that they deserve such, but it's hard when you see somebody who, you know, knows and prides himself in doing the right and all that kind of stuff - to see it happen to somebody like that.

SHAPIRO: Americans have become too familiar with the stories like this one, but when it happens to somebody you know personally, what goes through your head?

GIVENS: You know, after the occupation - the (unintelligible) occupation for Jamar Clark back in November...

SHAPIRO: Jamar Clark was another black man who was killed by police in Minnesota.

GIVENS: Yes. You know, I was really, in my mind, in my spirit and heart, hoping that, you know, we would get some reprieve at least in our state and more so nationally for police in our state to heal and recover from this. And so when this happened, somebody tagged me as the video was being filmed live, and I'm watching it, and I could - because of just kind of, like, the intensity of it, it didn't register that this was Philando. It just didn't register to me for whatever reason.

And even going down and being among the family and all that, it just - I was just, like - I guess I was in a state of shock - like, no. Like, this happened to somebody that I know that's from my community, my neighborhood. You know, their family is super close with my family. We're all from around the community. And no, this didn't happen to him - didn't deserve that.

SHAPIRO: You're a pastor, and I'm sure people are coming to you for some kind of insight or wisdom. Although this is still so fresh and I'm sure you're just processing it yourself, what can you tell people who come to you seeking that?

SHAPIRO: You know, what I've told people is that right now the most important thing for our people is for the people who are grieving and hurting and, you know, upset and all of those things about this particular incident is that we have to take care of ourselves right now. Self-care is the most important thing, that we take care of ourselves, that we be mindful of how we're vicariously traumatized again by seeing this stuff, by experiencing this stuff.

And so, you know, find that balance. Turn the TV off. You don't have to watch every video. You don't have to read every post. Take some time out to just allow healing and good energy to come into your world and be present. That's what I've been trying to do in practice. I have a 2-year-old son. I'm going to get him in a few minutes just to hold him - unconditional love. So that's what I would say to people during this time.

SHAPIRO: Pastor Danny Givens, I'm sorry for your loss, and I appreciate your time.

GIVENS: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.