Her fiancé was found dead in a dumpster. Police claim he hid there and was crushed, but she alleges a coverup
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I traveled to Minnesota to connect with community members across the Twin Cities who shared how the region has changed.
MAPLEWOOD, MN — Since losing her fiancé in 2009, Toshira Garraway Allen has dedicated her entire life to helping those affected by police violence. Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Allen has focused on amplifying the stories of those who can no longer speak for themselves.
“I believe in my heart that it's time for all of the stories of all of the people who have been killed by racially motivated murders to stand up and come forward,” Allen told Yahoo News in a sitdown interview in her home. “That's why I fight.”
As the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, Allen helps families who have lost loved ones to police violence heal their “mind, body and soul,” according to their website. Personally, Allen is no stranger to death. Her fiancé, Justin Teigen, was found dead in a dumpster on August 19, 2009 after being chased by police following a traffic stop. Allen contends a coverup, while police say there was no foul play involved.
According to Allen, police chased and caught Teigen, beat him up, had canine dogs viciously bite Teigen and then left his body to be crushed in the dumpster.
“When we walked into the mortuary, that's where we saw that it was a clear beating that took place,” Allen said. “Justin had dog bites all over his body. His skull was cracked in half. His wrists were detached from his arms. And you could see where you had the handcuff marks.”
“It was literally a 2009 Emmitt Till,” she added.
But St. Paul Police refute these allegations altogether. Instead, they claim they did everything in their power to “keep the community safe.”
“Unfortunately, the combination of acute alcohol intoxication, a head injury sustained after crashing a vehicle while fleeing police, and asphyxia due to mechanical compression in a recycling truck proved tragic,” St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders told Yahoo News in an email. “We wish he hadn’t hid from officers and that we could have located him so that we could have gotten him the help he needed.”
The differences between the police report and the marks on Teigen’s body don’t add up for Allen. She draws particular connection with what happened to George Floyd on video versus what police said in their initial report, which noted that Floyd died from a "medical incident during police interaction". Allen believes the same kind of coverup is at play with her fiancé.
“I've prayed for 11 years for the truth to come out,” she said. “Once they murdered Justin, I got out as a young girl, I was only 23 years old. I was being followed. I was being harassed. I was being stalked by the police because I wanted answers and I was seeking those answers like anybody would do that loves somebody. I did it for my son.”
“When I saw them kill George Floyd in broad daylight … I felt that the truth would one day come out and it finally did -- the truth of what they have been doing to Black men,” she added. “They couldn't cover it up because he did it in broad daylight.”
“Together we will make America wealthy again, we will make America strong again, we will make America safe again,” President Trump said Thursday evening.
A capacity crowd of 10,000 people packed the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn., for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rally. Another 1,500 people, who waited hours in line, could not get into the convention center, but chose to stick around and watch outside on giant screens. It’s Trump’s first visit to the southern Minnesota city since he started campaigning for president in 2015.
Supporters both old and young donned red MAGA hats, women proudly hoisted “Women for Trump” signs, and the American flag in its many iterations was visible in all corners of the convention center.
The president walked out to thunderous applause and raucous chants of, “U-S-A, U-S-A.” Trump used his speech to celebrate his administration’s changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also reiterated his support for his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and drove home his belief that National Football League players should stand for the anthem. But the real reason why the president came to rural Minnesota was to drum up excitement for local conservative politicians ahead of the midterm elections.
“I need your vote. I need your support to stop radical Democrats and to elect proud Minnesota Republicans,” Trump said. He added that electing Democrats would create “a nightmare of gridlock, chaos and, frankly, crime.”
Trump supporters held on to each of the president’s words, pumping their fists when he touted his successes and jeering with him as he ridiculed the media. Many in attendance left the event believing what they believed when they arrived – that the United States is headed in the right direction. “I pray the Republicans have a huge wave in November so President Trump gets the support he needs to make America, to keep America great,” said Kathy Tyler of Eden Prairie, Minn.
One local woman who recently celebrated her 17th birthday admitted that the excitement around Trump was great for the region, but that she couldn’t ignore the division she has experienced. “I never thought there was division in Rochester, because we’re so big and so heavily populated,” she said. “Already, I’ve seen the division and some of the looks, like: ‘You’re less than us.’”
If you don't know the name of the song, chances are you know the dance. Bobby Shmurda's first hit single, "Hot N***a" has been the hottest song of the entire 2014 garnering over 25 million hits on YouTube to date; and as summer has come and gone, the song continues to gain in popularity. What started as somewhat of a hood anthem from deep in Brooklyn, New York about selling drugs and gun violence has transformed into a song that brings people together with the catchy "shmoney dance" as its called. First captured online in a Vine, the dance has since taken off. It started with the hat flip and now it's being played on almost every continent and in every country as feel good music. For some time it's been known that music can be the great equalizer, bringing people together of all walks of life. In many ways music can bring people together better than politics can, but the shmoney dance has taken things to a new level. All types of people, all ages and backgrounds know the dance, the words and when the beat drops nothing else matters. Much can be made of the success of the song, but what about the idea that as humans we're all not that different. If music can bring us together so too can every day life of sports and food and common interests. The hate in the world is so ugly and unnecessary. Centuries of oppression needs to be left in the past. We need to use one another to uplift. Let's all enjoy life -- and at the very least let's shmoney dance!
Why do politics matter for black folk? Can one group who's been oppressed for so long continue to make strides without fully grasping or immersing themselves in politics? We have a black president in Barack Obama is all well. Not at all. Politics matter for everyone. It's the laws that make up how our society is run. It's the people put in the positions to make these laws. It's the makeup of the foundation of this country. It's everything. While we all need politics, certain groups need to understand politics more because life is not equal. Since the beginning of time specific groups have had direct and systematic advantages over other groups. In particular, white Protestant males have had the upper hand with land and business ownership, while women, minorities and gays have had an uphill battle. White Protestant males claim to have founded the country and start the government system. Things haven't changed since. With the passing of civil rights legislation, equality laws put in place and the passage of such bills as gay marriage, considerable strides in the last 70 years have been made. Yet most recently, these same gains have had an all out assault put on them. Voting rights have been scaled back, black males are being used as target practice by police and the wealth gap is at a fever pitch. What gives? While it seems often times the latest Jordan shoe release is top of many peoples' minds, there are other people working to restructure entire policies for states and municipalities. It matters.
A personal story of why politics matter for me. This past weekend I was pulled over after leaving Cornell University en route back to Syracuse. I was driving under the speed limit when I was pulled over by a cop with a full car of other collegiate, young black males. When he approached the car the first thing he said was, "Tell me where the weed is, and as long as it's under an ounce, I will be sure to get you guys right out of here." Only problem is, none of us had weed on us. He then asked for my license and registration to which I gave him with my college ID slipped under. He then yelled at me to get out of the car. I responded, "Sir with all due respect I know my rights and I did nothing wrong. If there is an issue you can let me know, but if you want to search my car you're going to need a warrant." The officer was taken aback. He called backup and continued to ask to search my car. I continued to say no and after ten minutes he let me go. He had no reason to pull me over and no reason to search the car. Yes the car was filled with five young black men, but we are all college educated. We are all law-abiding and yet we are at risk just as much as the next person. In the midst of all of this I was still disgusted. I was ashamed and annoyed. We had been stereotyped and incidentally pulled over for no reason. He said he smelled weed, but there was no weed to be found. All I could think was don't make any sudden moves so I did not end up another tragic story. But also, why did I have to justify who I was as a young man by sliding my college I.D. to the officer. All I knew was that I didn't want to find out otherwise. Another story similar to mine included a guy from South Carolina that was shot at multiple times by an officer after he was pulled over and told to get his license.
If I had not some sort of background in politics and current events this situation could have been different. I may not have understood what my actions could result in or what I could and could not do in that situation. It's people like Attorney General Eric Holder who fight for the rights of young black males as he seeks to reduce non-violent drug offenses for convicted persons in prisons. It's people like New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio with the work of Rev. Al Sharpton who work tirelessly to get crooked cops off the street and stop a dangerous practice of 'stop and frisk' in our communities that statistically does more harm than good. It's important to understand and know politics so you know your rights. Instead of fighting from the top down you can fight from the bottom up. We can elect persons to represent our communities and we can represent people to represent us. We need politics because politics is the people and the sooner we do, the sooner things start balancing out across the board.
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.