Peaceful Castile protest continues at governor’s mansion

Police make numerous arrests — including this reporter

Tuesday, July 26 several protesters were arrested outside the governor’s mansion.
On Tuesday, July 26 several protesters were arrested outside the governor’s mansion. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

 

Following the shooting and death of Philando Castile, along with many other fatal shootings of African Americans by law enforcement around the nation, but especially here at home, protests have been taking place to speak out against police shootings.

Recent protests have taken place in such locations as the I-94 highway, resulting in a shutdown for a few hours; near Larpenter and Fry in Falcon Heights where the Castile shooting took place; and during the past 20 days since July 7, in front of the governor’s mansion at 1006 Summit Avenue in St Paul.

Tuesday, July 26 several protesters were arrested outside the governor’s mansion.
Several protesters were arrested outside the governor’s mansion July 26. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

Tuesday July 26, was a day of further planning and organizing by Black Lives Matter and protesters who were peaceful and following orders by police in front of the governor’s mansion. In front of the gate at the mansion were pictures of Castile and signs that read “Long Live Castile,” “Abolish the Police,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Justice for Philando.” During the protests, St. Paul Police began making arrests.

At 4:30 pm, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell held a press conference. Before the press conference, 10 protesters were booked in Ramsey County and 15 were cited and released. “This is the last resort for us,” Axtell said. “This is the last thing we want to do is make arrests.

“We will continue to have those dialogues and work very hard on issues particularly facing men of color in this community and across the nation,” Coleman said. “We also recognize as the Capitol city, we have a special duty to allow for peaceful protest and to exercise First Amendment rights.”

Coleman also said that protesters “cannot be in the streets or obstruct the pathways in front of the governor’s residence.” He later stated that some of the protesters from the morning of July 26 decided to no longer follow the agreement and became violent. After the press conference, 20 more people were arrested.

A protester named Emmanuel was asked how this fatal shooting was similar to that of Jamar Clark in November in North Minneapolis. “It’s similar because the police aren’t held accountable. It proves the system is failing. Pushing ourselves to help get this message through will help change society,” he said

During the assembly, police asked the protesters to clear the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic, a request with which they complied. During the press conference, Chief Axtell stated that there is good reason for law enforcement to keep traffic clear and the environment safe.

“Do things the St. Paul way is what we really try to do,” said Axtell. “It’s my job as your chief to serve our 300,000 people that live in the city, the visitors and workers, to make sure they can move about freely and safely. When those measures are jeopardized, we owe it to our public to make sure we look out for the interest of our entire public.”

On Tuesday, July 26 several protesters were arrested outside the governor’s mansion.
On Tuesday, July 26 several protesters were arrested outside the governor’s mansion. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

In a dramatic turn of events, this writer was arrested while conducting an interview with one of the coordinators of the BLM movement. While I was leaving the premises of the governor’s mansion, St. Paul police yelled over the loudspeaker, “You all [are] under arrest! Keep your hands up where we can see them and have a seat on the grass!”

I was mistaken for a protester, arrested, and taken on the bus, which was specifically parked for protesters who were being transferred to Ramsey County Jail. However, upon being transported to Ramsey County, protesters sat on the bus, were checked for warrants, and were then released with a citation of unlawful assembly and public nuisance.

Protesters stuck together, sharing water to prevent dehydration from the heat. Twenty-three more protesters were arrested later that night, as they congregated again in front of the governor’s mansion. During the protests, Governor Dayton was in Philadelphia attending the Democratic National Convention.

The death of Castile is still under investigation. Judge Glenda Hatchett has taken the responsibility of representing the Castile family in the trial. In light of the peaceful protests, protesters plan to keep gathering in front of the governor’s mansion until charges are brought against Jeronimo Yanez, the officer responsible for the death of Castile.

 

Ivan B. Phifer welcomes reader responses to ivan.b.phifer@gmail.com.