18 protesters in Minnesota arrested after Philando Castile verdict

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 19, 2017

The protesters gathered at the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul, holding "Black Lives Matter" signs and chanting "No Justice, No Peace!"

Tired, confused and frustrated, thousands of people took to the streets in St. Paul Friday to decry the acquittal of the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop a year ago. Outraged family, friends, and attorneys on Philando Castile's behalf shared sentiments of anger, grief, and disbelief at the outcome, the verdict of which resulted in St. Paul policeman Jeronimo Yanez being acquitted of charges against him for the shooting and killing of Castile.

Castile, 32, a school cafeteria supervisor, was shot five times by the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, 29, on July 6 a year ago while following instructions to retrieve his driving licence.

Yanez, who is Latino, testified that Castile disregarded his commands not to pull out the gun and that he feared for his life. An evening protest was planned at the state capitol.

"I had to explain to her, today in the vehicle ride home, what this was all about, and how do you do that to a 5-year-old?"

Valerie Castile, Philando's mother, addressed the crowd directly after leaving the courthouse. She, further, said that she would never believe in the system.

Ms Reynolds, whose video showed 32-year-old Mr Castile covered in blood as an officer pointed his gun at him, said he had been reaching for his licence when he was shot. The shooting of Philando Castile was captured on Facebook Live by his girlfriend as her young daughter looked on, lending an extra layer to the same old story of police using excessive force on an African-American. He said, "Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me". Castile appears to give something to Yanez through the driver's side window.

Prosecutors argued that Yanez could have taken lesser steps, such as asking to see Castiles hands or asking where the gun was. Reynolds, the girlfriend, said Castile had been trying to pull out his wallet.

Prosecutors in St. Paul, Minnesota, said recordings from the auto - both from Reynolds' phone and from a dashboard camera - showed that Castile was courteous and non-threatening, and they told the court there was no justification for Yanez' action.

The protesters, who were booked at the Ramsey County Jail, face charges for being a pedestrian on the highway and other charges, Nielson said.

"I don't doubt that Officer Yanez is a decent person, but he made a terrible mistake from our perspective, and that's what this case was about". "It sends a very harsh message that we still have major race issues in this country".

Shorting after the verdict, the City of St. Anthony announced that Yanez "will not return to active duty" despite his acquittal. "Just because he was a police officer, that makes it OK". Like many who expressed alarm at the verdict, they were critical of the makeup of the jury: eight men (one black) and four women (also one black). The dashcam video has not been made public, pending the outcome of the case.

In a statement, a Minnesota State Patrol spokeswoman said the protesters were charged with unlawful assembly, among other things, after they declined repeated demands from police to vacate the roadway.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement denouncing the jury's not guilty decision.

Following the verdict, peaceful protests were held throughout the weekend in St. Paul, Minneapolis and St. Anthony.

Protestors marched from the state capitol in St. Paul and, as they did a year ago, about 500 marched down the ramps onto Interstate 94, blocking traffic on the busiest traffic connection between the Twin Cities. Marchers also blocked commuter trains at one point and chanted "Yanez Guilty".

Yanez stared ahead with no reaction as the verdict was read. "Justice was done", Gray told Reuters by telephone.

Ploussard explained that deliberations proved to be "very, very hard" but the two holdouts finally agreed that Yanez was legally justified in his actions.

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