More than 2,000 people have marched through Minnesota to protest against the acquittal of a police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile, a black motorist, as he sat in his auto with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.
By Friday evening, thousands of peaceful protesters had gathered in St. Paul and were marching through the streets. An estimated 500 protesters snarled traffic and forced police to shut down the freeway in both directions, the Minnesota State Patrol said.
"At 1:30 a.m. Saturday, a few dozen protesters had gathered in front of the Governor's Residence, the site of a almost three-week encampment after Castile's death last summer". Yanez was found not guilty in the 2016 fatal shooting of Philando Castile. Mr. Yanez's defense argued that the officer 'did what he had to do, ' claiming that Mr. Castile had marijuana in his vehicle and that 'he was stoned, ' a too-common rationalization in police killings, and an allegation that would appear in this case to be contradicted by dashboard video showing Mr. Castile to be compliant, alert and courteous. "He let the officer know that he had a firearm and that he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him in his arm". Protests and demonstrations immediately took place across the country as Castile's girlfriend had recorded and broadcast the tragedy on Facebook Live.
July 8: Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says he'll decide later whether he or a grand jury will decide on any charges against Yanez.
After the shooting, then-US President Barack Obama described as tragedies the deaths of Castile and of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana - the second black man slain during an altercation with police in two days. After the verdict, St. Anthony announced plans to dismiss Yanez. Demonstrators hold signs as they as they block traffic on Interstate 94 in St. Paul, Minn., after leaving a vigil at the state Capitol on Friday, June 16, 2017.
The incident, one of several deaths of black men and boys shot by U.S. police, sparked outrage and protests in St Paul. No video existed of exactly what happened inside the vehicle. Her 4-year-old daughter was also in the auto at the time.
"The system continues to fail black people", she said.
Castile called Yanez a "murderer" and said she was "mad as hell" about the verdict, which, if anything, seems like an understatement.
"This time we had a young man who had no criminal record", she said. People of different faiths, color and ages came together as one to listen and voice their frustration over the acquittal of Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile.
Castile's mother, Valerie, for her part, said following the court decision: "People have died for us to have these rights and now we're devolving".
Yanez testified that Castile, a school cafeteria worker, was reaching for his gun despite his commands not to pull it out.