On Friday 16th of June, the fate of St. Anthony Police Officer Yanez was found not guilty of manslaughter and a pair of firearms charges.
The verdict sparked a divided public debate in Minnesota with a protest materializing in just under 4 hours, to protest the verdict at the steps of the state capitol in St. Paul with speakers including friends and family of Philando Castille, the man killed by Yanez, along with organizers of local racial justice advocates, ranging from leaders of Minnesota Black Lives Matter and Nekima Levy-Pounds, former President of the Minnesota ACLU and mayoral candidate for the state of Minnesota.
The verdict was announced Friday at 2:45 PM, within hours the guest list for the protest at the capitol grew to 2000 attendees.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, former president of the Minneapolis NAACP, shared her condolences with the family and expressed her desire to see an independent organization to investigate police matters.
“It depends on us, we the people!”
Protestors made their way down University ave in St. Paul as the sun lowered in the background. The slow march blocked off key intersections and even the Metro Transit light rail, protesters cried “Justice for Philando! Shut it down!”. Despite the group’s outrage, the protest was peaceful, even neighborly complete with brats being served over the tracks of the stalled city train on Western Ave.
9:35 PM The protesters left University avenue, walking over I-94, where protesters had gathered last summer to protest the shooting of Jamar Clark, where the protests would ultimately return later.
10:42 PM The stated end of the event was 10 PM but the protest was far from over. Rather than cross back over the bridge, the march pursued a parallel path, eventually embarking onto the interstate.
The cars on the freeway came to a halt for the protesters, some choosing to drive around them, with others stopping to shield them from oncoming traffic. By 11 the police had begun to surround the block on which the protesters had entered.
I climbed over the fence onto Concordia Ave, minutes before the police announced that the protest had been declared a public disturbance. Just over the fence, I saw a familiar face from the capitol rally.
Khalid, was in the middle of Friday prayer when he heard the news. Hours after the gathering he said that he still felt shocked by the verdict, and even more by the fact that none of the 3 counts had returned a verdict. He said even then, hours after hearing the news, that the tension still hung in the air.
As we wrapped up our conversation, the police began closing in on the freeway entrance.