The Issues

More than a dozen protesters arrested for blocking I-94

The protest at the decision to acquit Officer Jeronimo Yanez for the fatal shooting of Philando Castile ended overnight, but not before more than a dozen arrests were made.

Around 500 marchers closed down Interstate 94 in St. Paul for three hours late Friday night with police largely keeping their distance initially, before the State Patrol issued a dispersal order just after 11 p.m.

The State Patrol’s Twitter account said that protesters were actually off the main freeway but some remained on the ramp at Marion when the first arrest was made.

By the end of the night 18 people were arrested including some journalists, with Star Tribune videographer Mark Vancleave indicating that CityPages photographer Susan Du and Minnesota Daily Campus editor David Clarey were among those detained.

Some of those at the protest were unhappy about the decision to make arrests, with KARE 11 photographer Ben Garvin suggesting the protesters had been given the ramp to leave the freeway “unhindered.”

After leaving I-94, some protesters made their way to the Governor’s Mansion, the scene of prolonged protests last summer following the killing of Philando Castile.

Just before 3 a.m., Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said it was closing down at the mansion.

The Minnesota Legislature, in its most recent session, had passed a bill invoking sterner punishments on protesters who blocked an interstate, but the Republicans agreed to remove the bill from the final budget as part of negotiations with Gov. Mark Dayton.

Yanez fired, Ellison’s anger

At its height police estimated the crowd at Friday’s protest was at 2,000, with marchers gathering shortly after the jury acquitted St. Anthony police officer Yanez on all counts for the shooting of Castile.

Yanez was fired from his position following the verdict, with the St. Anthony Police Department saying the “public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.” He’ll be offered a “voluntary separation agreement” to help him transition to another career.

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said Friday’s verdict “re-opens old wounds,” another death at the hands of police adding to a growing pile of “past injustices that make so many Black Americans feel that their lives don’t matter.”

 “Today, my heart is with the family of Philando Castile. Our community must keep fighting in honor of Philando to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again. The movement for justice will continue to march ahead.”

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