“Protests over Castile shooting cost St. Paul nearly $2 million” – Pioneer Press
On July 6, 2016 Philando Castile, elementary school Nutritionist, died in front of his fiancé Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter after he was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. In response to the tragedy a 30 day protest unfolded in front of the Governors Mansion and protestors also shut down Interstate 94. Costing the city nearly $2 million dollars.
Michelle Mariacher, a former St. Paul citizen watched this crisis unfold, from Helena, MT on Facebook. Concerned about the tensions rising as the days passed, she decided to focus on the solution for diffusing tension between Police and protestors. As well as, how to harness all the time, energy and resources, then redirect them towards a fruitful outcome.
After much thought, the “Food For Thought & Understanding” Initiative was born. The Food For Thought and Understanding Initiative is an effort that provides Police Officers with Gift Certificates to various Restaurants around the Twin Cities. The Gift Certificates will act as a “tension defuser” between the Police Officers and Protest Leaders in the face of civil upset. They will also serve as an invitation to a sit down meal and discussion about how they can work together on harnessing the energy of both forces (the police force & the protesters) for positive social change.
So what does this sit down meal conversation look like? Ultimately, the Police Officer would arrive at the dinner with a list of community resources geared towards social justice issues. Along with social justice success stories book titles & authors. The hope is that after a civil conversation about practical solutions for the issue at hand, Protest Leaders will use their power of influence and their followers more wisely. Most importantly their efforts will be supported by the police force.
If you would like to know more about how Michelle became involved with this issue you can read her back story here. If you would like to get involved with this project click here.