Protesters marched through St. Paul yesterday in order to draw attention to “police terror” within the Twin Cities, according to the event’s Facebook page. The march’s date had a symbolic meaning as Philando Castile would have turned 34 yesterday had he not been killed by former St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez in July of 2016.
The protest was also in the wake of a recent Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) shooting of Justine Damond, who called the police to report a possible assault in the city’s Fulton Neighborhood. The Star Tribune reported that while Damond was talking to the officers at the driver side door of their squad car, the officer in the passenger seat drew his firearm and fired a shot through the driver side door, hitting and killing Damond.
The protest was organized by members of the Twin Cities Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) General Defense Committee Local 14, Twin Cities Justice 4 Jamar Clark, and Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB).
The protest made it’s way to the Wild Onion, a local bar and restaurant in St. Paul, and accused the establishment of enabling white supremacy.
“A black man could walk into the Wild Onion wearing spandex and [the Wild Onion] would still say his pants were too baggy and that he’s sagging,” said one speaker.
A group tried to enter the open air restaurant but was escorted out by security. A masked protester engaged with multiple patrons sitting on the patio, telling them that their “SUVs won’t save them.”
Restaurant goers and the protester also exchanged challenges to fight each other. Another masked protester seemingly calmed the individual and the protest moved forward. As the protest was leaving, the masked agitator told the restaurant goers
“Welcome to the class war, motherfuckers.”
Facebook live video of the event can be found below (video credit Mark Wasson):
While the usual altercations between motorists and protesters transpired (drivers being angry and protesters blocking them with zero violence) this march had a distinctly different outcome for two motorists who decided to confront the protest.
One driver’s encounter with protesters led to the driver claiming that his cell phone and car keys were stolen by the marchers. Protesters accused the man of being drunk and trying to hit protesters.
Video of the event can be found below (video credit Mark Wasson):
Another driver tried to drive through the protest but was stopped by protest marshals. After arguing with the protesters for several minutes, protest marshals moved out of the way to let the driver pass. As the vehicle was pulling away, someone threw a water bottle into the open window of the truck’s passenger side door. The driver stopped and exited the vehicle to confront the protesters. The driver was met with multiple marchers who pushed and hit the man. As the man retreated to his vehicle, a masked individual slashed the two right side tires of the truck. When the driver made it back inside his vehicle, he was assaulted by multiple protesters before attempting to drive away with two rapidly deflating tires. Once the driver realized the tires were slashed, he got out and said
You’re the racists, you idiots.”
Facebook Live video of the event can be found below (video credit Mark Wasson):
The driver of the vehicle also attempted to confront the protesters approximately eight minutes after the incident. The driver called the protesters “terrorists” with one protester responding that they were a “patriot”.
The march ended up at St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s house. Protesters wanted Coleman to drop the charges against Louis Hunter, a cousin of Castile, who is charged with a felony after officers said Hunter threw rocks and debris at police during a protest last year. Hunter has denied throwing any objects.
Steve Linders, Public Information Officer for the St. Paul Police Department said that while no arrests were made the incidents were under investigation.
We welcome peaceful protests in the city of St. Paul but when you cross over that line and you assault people and you damage property we will hold you accountable for your actions. So when you punch people in the face, you’ll be held accountable for your actions. When you slash tires you’ll be held accountable. When you steal cell phones or keys from people, you’ll be held accountable. That is not peaceful protesting and we have no patience for that kind of behavior,” said Linders.