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'We Do Not Want to Lose Another Member of Our Family or Yours,' Ed. Council Says

Philando Castile, the black man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minn., during a traffic stop last week, graduated from Central High School in the St. Paul, Minn., school district, and worked in nutrition services at one of the district's Montessori schools.

Patrick Zamarripa, one of the five police officers who were shot and killed by a sniper in Dallas, Tex., on Thursday, graduated in 2001 from R.L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth public schools.

And among the 49 victims of the attack on the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June, were five graduates of the Orange County, Fla., public schools.

"These are our students, our graduates, our employees, our brothers, our neighbors, our fathers, our husbands and partners and our mentors," Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, said in an unusually personal statement on Monday about the recent spate of shootings, which the council called "slayings."

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The Washington-based organization represents the nation's largest school districts, the majority of them urban school systems.

The shootings of Castile and Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge, La., police officer during a confrontation last Tuesday, have led to protests in many cities. It was near the culmination of one such protest in Dallas on Thursday that the police officers were shot by a black man who authorities said was upset about recent police shootings and wanted to kill white police officers. 

In the statement, the council said it grieved for the victims of violence—from Cleveland, to Baltimore, Chicago, New York City and other urban communities across the country. The deaths, the statement said, were also personal because the victims&black, white, and Latino—were part of the organization's family. 

"We not only grieve for them all, but we understand our patriotic responsibility to teach tolerance, civility, and unity in a nation whose public discourse is becoming increasingly untethered from these values," the statement continued. "In the face of these tragedies, the nation's urban school leaders recommit ourselves to the work of advancing empathy and understanding and equity and justice and forbearance."

The organization pledged to do "everything we can to vigorously resist the forces of ignorance and fear and prejudice and hatred and revenge that are behind so many of these acts."

"We do not want to lose another member of our family or yours," it said.  

Photo caption: Participants march in front of the St. Anthony, Minn., police department headquarters on July 10 to protest of the fatal shooting of Anthony Castile earlier in the week.

--Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP
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