A nonviolent response; Police, protesters have so far reacted well to the controversial Castile verdict

Published 8:21 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Fortunately, a series of emotional protests in the Twin Cities over the weekend were mostly peaceful. Protesters, law enforcement authorities and other members of the community should be commended for their handling of the demonstrations in the wake of the trial of Jeronimo Yanez.

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An estimated 2,000 protesters converged on the State Capitol on Friday night. Their frustration with the verdict was apparent in the pained expressions and tears from people of all races, ages and backgrounds who gathered to grieve and look to each other for strength.

Yanez, 29, a former St. Anthony police officer, fatally shot Philando Castile, 32, last July during a traffic stop. On Friday, a 12-member jury found Yanez not guilty of manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. As they did just after Castile was killed, demonstrators took to the streets over the weekend.

When some of the Capitol protesters poured onto Interstate 94 late Friday, St. Paul police and the Minnesota State Patrol seemed well-prepared. They closed off a stretch of the interstate for about an hour. When some protesters didn’t move quickly enough after several warnings, 18 were arrested. Regrettably, two working journalists who were simply trying to do their jobs were among those swept up in the arrests.

The protesters were confined to a bus for several hours as they were being processed, and at least one reported being pepper-sprayed. All were charged with some combination of unlawful assembly and public nuisance violations. They were released on Saturday morning.

In addition to the weekend protests, several community forums gave citizens the opportunity to share their feelings about the case and talk through what comes next. The community conversations have been facilitated and led by local nonprofit and community organizations in partnership with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and the city of St. Paul.

Another session in the St. Paul series of facilitated public discussions will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Wilder Foundation, 451 N. Lexington Pkwy.

We hope citizens, public officials and leaders in law enforcement will use this and other community forums to share their thoughts and work together to explore ways to improve police-community relations in the Twin Cities and elsewhere.