I-94 Protesters Trial Starting Soon

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Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It has been more than one year since protesters took to the freeways of the Twin Cities to march against police brutality and violence in wake of the Philando Castile shooting by former St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

Hundreds shut down I-94 for more than five hours, blocking both the east and westbound lanes.

Now, of more than the 100 protesters arrested by police on the night of July 9, only 21 will be facing charges in court.

Alpha News reported in January that a judge dismissed riot charges for almost 50 of the protesters. At the time, District Judge G. Tony Atwal said prosecutors had not met the burden of proof to charge the group with third-degree riot. Other protesters arrested either pled out or had their charges dismissed.

Last week, the Carver County attorney’s office dropped charges against Louis Bernard Hunter, the cousin of Philando Castile, due to insufficient evidence.

Hunter was charged with two counts of second degree felony riot after police officers accused him of throwing large pieces of construction material at them.

Officers used marking guns to tag rioters throwing large rocks, glass, lumber, with a neon green dye. Hunter, who was marked with dye, was arrested after officers identified and followed a vehicle that carried passengers who allegedly threw what appeared to be molotov cocktails according to the Carver County Attorney’s office.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office turned the case over to Carver County after it was discovered that Hunter had a familial relation to Castile.  

Carver County Attorney Mark Metz states in the press release, “When police are suddenly thrust into a high stress situation and their personal safety is threatened, their ability to accurately observe details and later recall events can be diminished.”

Last July, Alpha News reported the protest cost taxpayers $1.5 million and one officer had a fractured spine after a protester dropped a cement block on his head.

According to WCCO, three of the 21 will begin trial this week, while trial dates for the others will begin before December. 

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