I Nearly Went to Prison for Philando Castile. I Closed My Restaurant For George Floyd.


On Thursday, May 28, protesters marched through Minneapolis to demand justice for George Floyd, who was killed by police on Monday, and the countless other Black people who have been victims of police violence. Several restaurants in Minneapolis shuttered for the evening to stand in solidarity with the Black community, including Trio, a plant-based soul food restaurant. Trio’s owner, Louis Hunter, was a cousin of Philando Castile, who was killed by a police officer in 2016. When I saw Trio post on its Instagram Story that it was closing down for the night, I called Hunter to see if he wanted to share his thoughts. Here’s what he told me over the phone, the morning after the Thursday-night protests. —Priya Krishna

George Floyd. Hearing it, seeing it—my body, my mind, and my soul were devastated. It took me back to when Philando Castile was killed by a police officer in 2016. Castile was my cousin. When he was killed, I attended a protest in Saint Paul, and the next day I was facing 20 years in prison. I was accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the police. I fought that case for two and a half years and with the help of my community, I beat the charges. That’s how I was able to open my restaurant, Trio.

Since the pandemic, I have been doing takeout and delivery. But last night I closed down because I wanted to be in solidarity with my community. I didn’t want to keep my restaurant running knowing that a man had just died. I just had to stand back for a minute.

Floyd worked in the restaurant industry. As Black people working in the restaurant industry, our food is soul. You have so much love for people. For Floyd to be working in the restaurant industry, he had to be a people-server. He was a good person.

Me and my family rolled through the protest last night, just watching things happen. I saw anger and hurt. I got out in Minneapolis, but I didn’t get out in St. Paul. It just brought back those memories of what I went through—going to a protest and getting accused of something I didn’t do. It was scary and overwhelming, so I stayed away.

Louis Hunter, outside of his restaurant Trio in Minneapolis.

PHOTO BY CARINA LOFGREN

Today, I will be dropping off a box of sanitizer for everybody out there. If I had the money to feed them I would. But we are a small business, and I don’t have the funds. Also, we are going through a pandemic and a recession.





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