Protest shuts down I-94 in St. Paul: 21 officers injured, 102 arrested
Police are deploying smoke on the crowds to get them to leave the area by the pedestrian bridge.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Hundreds of people protesting the shooting death of Philando Castile gathered Saturday night at the Governor’s Residence on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minn., then marched onto Interstate 94, shutting down the highway for more than 5 hours. Sunday morning, St. Paul police confirmed 21 officers from multiple agencies were injured, and 102 people were arrested. None of the injuries were serious.
Around 8 p.m., the crowd marched onto the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-94 at Lexington Avenue, forming a wall. Police closed the interstate from Highway 280 to downtown St. Paul, then reopened both directions by 1:49 a.m. Sunday. A total of 50 people were arrested on I-94, booked into Ramsey County Jail on third-degree rioting charges. State Patrol officials said at least eight people arrested were from outside Minnesota.
A second clash with police on Grand Avenue at about 4 a.m. led to 52 arrests for public nuisance and unlawful assembly. Those individuals were booked and released.
Sunday morning, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell confirmed 21 officers were injured by projectiles, including fireworks, rocks, bricks, concrete chunks and glass bottles. An officer now has a broken vertebrae after being hit by a concrete block in the head. At the height of the confrontation, police said some people started arming themselves with rebar from a nearby construction site. Police then used smoke and to clear the crowd. After the freeway was cleared, one officer was hit in the face by a bottle thrown by a protester on a St. Paul city street.
"Protesters last night turned into criminals," Chief Axtell said, noting police will not tolerate violence during demonstrations.
Castile family statement
Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, released a statement Sunday in response to the protests that have taken place following the deadly officer-involved shooting.
“On behalf of myself and our entire family, we urge all people to remain peaceful in all demonstrations throughout our community and our nation. When demonstrations become violent, it disrespects my son and his memory. Philando was a man of peace and dignity. Please, I ask you to at all times remain peaceful in your expressions of concern regarding his death at the hands of the police. I promise that we will not rest until justice prevails.”
Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday night, July 6. A graphic video streamed live on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend captured the aftermath of shooting from inside the car.
Since the shooting, the Governor’s Residence has been a meeting place for protesters and a venue for impromptu news conferences with Castile’s family and community leaders.
Saturday morning, the attorney representing St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting of Philando Castile told Fox 9 “race did not play a part in the use of deadly force at all.” Attorney Tom Kelly says it was the presence of a gun and the actions of Castile that led to the deadly shooting.
“Officer Yanez was reacting to the actions of the driver,” Kelly said in a phone conversation with Fox 9’s Paul Blume. “This incident had nothing to do with race. It had everything to do with the presence of a gun. Race did not play a part in the use of deadly force at all. It was the presence of a gun.”
COP'S LAWYER: Broken tail light 'not the only reason' for Philando Castile traffic stop
Timeline of Philando Castile shooting
JULY 6, 9 PM - Officer-involved shooting in Falcon Heights, Facebook video shows aftermath
TRANSCRIPT - What Diamond Reynolds and Officer Jeronimo Yanez said in Facebook video
JULY 7, 5:30 PM - Thousands gather outside St. Paul school to pay respect to Philando Castile
JULY 7 - Students remember Castile as 'Mr. Phil'
JULY 7, 10 AM - Governor: 'Justice will be served in Minnesota'
IN-DEPTH - Minnesota's permit to carry law and how it applies to Philando Castile
JULY 7, 9:50 PM - Police officers identified in fatal shooting of Philando Castile
JULY 8, 10:30 AM - Prosecutor considering grand jury in Philando Castile shooting