Sunday, 22 October, 2017

18 arrested protesting Minnesota cop's acquittal

People in November 2016 gather at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School where Philando Castile worked in St. Paul Minn. after charges were filed against St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez Jury still deliberating in case of officer who shot Castile
Howard Terry | 18 June, 2017, 01:22

A protest on a Minnesota freeway over the acquittal of a police officer in the slaying of black motorist Philando Castile resulted in the arrest of 18 demonstrators early on Saturday (|June 17), state police said.

A large crowd of protesters gathered outside of the state Capitol after the verdict, eventually leaving to march down St. Paul's streets.

In addition to the second-degree manslaughter charge, Yanez was also acquitted of two lesser charges of endangering the safety of Castile's girlfriend and young daughter, who were in the vehicle when Castile was shot and killed. Castile had a permit.

Yanez, who is Latino, was charged with second-degree manslaughter.

With the announcement of the verdict, St. Anthony police announced Yanez would not be returning to active duty.

In a statement after the verdict was announced, St. Anthony city officials said they would offer Yanez "a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer".

A gathering point for them became an occupation in front of the governor's mansion in St. Paul, which lasted for 20 days until police cleared it July 26, arresting more than 40 people in the process.

The protest was peaceful, but a smaller group splintered off and walked down an entrance ramp to block Interstate 94, quickly snarling traffic and leading to the freeway's shutdown in both directions, AP reported.

At around 10:24 p.m., protesters moved onto I-94 without any initial police presence, but police arrived nearly immediately after to redirect traffic further down the highway.

Several thousand people marched in St. Paul Friday night, angry about the acquittal of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. "I am so disappointed in the state of Minnesota".

For his family and many in the community, Castile is now one more African American face denied justice, joining the grim gallery of names like Michael Brown of Ferguson, Freddie Gray of Baltimore, and Tamir Rice of Cleveland.

The incident drew global condemnation when Castile's girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook. Philando Castile was one of 1,092 individuals killed by the police in 2016.

During the stop, the former cafeteria worker informed Yanez that he was carrying a gun just moments before he was shot.

Last summer, another demonstration on I-94 in response to Castile's shooting led to over 100 arrests or citations after protesters threw rocks, bricks, bottles and fireworks at police.

Prosecutors argued that Yanez did not see the gun and acted unreasonably. They contended that Castile was not a threat.

Friday's acquittal prompted swearing from Castile's family members.

Allysza Castile, Philando's younger sister, was more resigned while speaking to reporters. "The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all". Reynolds, the girlfriend, said Castile had been trying to pull out his wallet.

"It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman".

According to KTSP-TV, the judge tasked the jurors to determine the level of culpable negligence demonstrated by Yanez in his decision to use lethal force against Castile. The school district said grief counselors will be available to speak to students and staff.

The city's mayor, Chris Coleman, ordered community centers to remain open for public discussions, and appealed for calm.

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