Following a night of riots and mayhem by protesters on Interstate 94 in St. Paul on Saturday, July 9, people gathered outside the St. Anthony Police Station on Sunday afternoon, where the officer who allegedly shot Philando Castile is based.
According to various Twitter accounts, St. Anthony city workers blocked off Silver Lake Road at 37th Street to prepare for the protest. The protest, called “Justice Philando Castile” was organized by a national protest group called “Don’t Shoot”. This group is opposed to police brutality and has over 200,000 followers on Facebook. According to the group’s Facebook page, almost 3,000 people said they had planned on attending today’s protest. Reports say that only a few hundred people attended Sunday afternoon’s event.
At first, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis urged its followers on Facebook not to attend today’s demonstration saying, “…we do not support this action. As far as we know, it was organized by white people from out of state. They don’t have connections to our community and they haven’t worked with local organizers. We don’t know their intentions, their philosophy or if they are violent. Please do not go to this rally, there are many local organizers who do not support this rally because they have not worked with us to make this happen.”
President of the Minneapolis NAACP, Nekima Levy-Pounds posted on Facebook that the organization of Sunday’s protest had been taken over by Monique Cullars-Doty of Black Lives Matter St. Paul. Cullars-Doty is also the aunt of Marcus Golden who was killed by police last year in St. Paul.
As of 2:30PM on Sunday, Twitter reported that the crowd in front of the St. Anthony City Hall and community center has grown to about a few hundred people. Bring Me The News reported that various activists took turns speaking to the crowd of protesters in front of the St. Anthony Police station and brought out a large scroll that contained the name of 222 Minnesotans who were killed by police in the last decade. Philando Castile’s name was added to the bottom of the scroll.
Sunday’s protest came on the heels of a protest where 200-300 people formed a human chain across the east bound and west bound lanes of I-94 in St. Paul. As the protest went on, more than 100 people were arrested and 27 police officers were injured during the five hour riot, with one police officer sustaining a broken spine after he was hit on the head with a chunk of cement.
During the Saturday night ruckus on I-94, protesters hurled rocks, cement, rebar, bottle rockets and firecrackers at the police. Some poured liquid onto the police officers from overpasses. The melee lasted from 8PM Saturday night until approximately 1:15AM Sunday morning. After the protest, crews were sent in to clean up debris from Interstate 94, which is a busy artery that connects Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis posted on their Facebook page that they were “furiously working to support the 49 individuals that were arrested as civil disobedience in the I-94 shutdown. A legal team of volunteers, lawyers, and coordinators are working really hard to get our folks access to lawyers and any medications they may need while in custody.”
Governor Mark Dayton released a statement about the I-94 protest, asking Minnesotans to “remain calm and peaceful”. Lt. Governor Tina Smith said in a press release, “The many police officers, State Troopers and Sheriff’s deputies who worked throughout the night to keep people save deserve our gratitude and respect.”
Follow Alpha News as we continue to report on this story as more details become available.