Philando Protest Shuts Down I-94 After Yanez Not Guilty Verdict

Jeronimo Yanez, the officer that shot Philando Castile, was cleared of manslaughter and other charges early Friday afternoon. Members and supporters of Castile’s family joined together in front of multiple media outlets in order respond to the verdict.

Valerie Castile. Image credit: Mark Wasson

“I am so disappointed in the state of Minnesota,” said Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile “My son loved this city and this city killed my son.”

A protest at the State Capitol would have happened regardless of the verdict, but as word spread over 2,000 people quickly RSVP’d to an event created on Facebook.

About 2,000 protesters did end up gathering at the base of the Capitol stairs to hold signs, chant and listen to multiple speakers lamenting the loss of Philando Castile and the Yanez verdict.

Nekima Levy-Pounds, a candidate for Minneapolis mayor said despite “overwhelming evidence” of Yanez’s guilt, white people had been silent.

After these words, speakers announced a march that proceeded down University Avenue, which they took to Victoria Street, Selby Avenue and Dale Street. Event marshals ran ahead to redirect traffic from intersections, which were held for several minutes before the march continued. Police officers blocked traffic about two blocks ahead of the protest but would go ahead to block the next street when the protest came within a block of the officer’s vehicles.

Photo credit – Benjamin Pecka

The crowd then interrupted and held traffic on Interstate 94, where they were eventually met with a heavy police presence. The Minnesota State Patrol, in partial riot gear which included face shields, batons, mace and a weapon to fire tear gas, held ground at Western Avenue and declared the gathering an “unlawful protest” and gave the protesters five minutes to clear the area.

A tactical unit dressed in military-style uniforms, rifles and body armor joined the State Patrol. Two Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles (MRAP) were spotted behind police lines.

During the standoff, protesters yelled at police, asking how they could live with themselves and if their lives had no value to law enforcement.

Facebook Live video of the event can be found below:


Protest blocking I 94

Posted by The Civic Observer on Friday, June 16, 2017


#philandocastile protest on I 94

Posted by The Civic Observer on Friday, June 16, 2017


#philando confrontation with police

Posted by The Civic Observer on Friday, June 16, 2017

Photo credit – Benjamin Pecka

The State Patrol, along with the tactical unit and other police departments, first worked to clear protesters from the highway onto the off-ramp.

Once police moved the protest to the off-ramp, they moved to encircle the protest by blocking the area next to the highway, the path to the highway and the path up the off-ramp. Police lined up alongside the frontage road. A small area was still open along it, which left members of the protest, along with members of the media, running up the hill to jump the fence to avoid arrest. Despite being sharply critical of the extra media attention they received earlier, they held journalist’s cameras and footing so they could also get over. Police were seen grabbing at people before making the jump over the fence.

Police made 18 arrests. The Minnesota State Patrol released this statement about the nights events:

“The protest tonight at the State Capitol was a peaceful event. The protesters left the State Capitol at 8:25 p.m., marching down University. At 10:23 pm, some protesters ran onto I-94 at Dale St. The number of protesters on the freeway was initially estimated to be 1,500 people. The State Patrol gave three warnings to exit the freeway. The crowd dispersed over time. At 12:30 a.m., State Patrol Troopers made arrests. The State Patrol was assisted by St. Paul PD, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County, Dakota County and Hennepin County Sheriff’s office. A total of 18 persons were arrested and booked at Ramsey County Jail. Charges are pending for being a pedestrian on the freeway and other charges.”


Photo credit – Mark Wasson

After clearing from the highway a crowd of about twenty people made their way down Marion Street and gathered on the corner of Ravoux and St. Anthony where they were met again by various police agencies and asked to disperse.

However, police eventually retreated and the group left the scene.

Mark Wasson contributed to this story.

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