Castile protest moves to Interstate 94 as march grows to over 2,000 people

Former police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty Friday at Ramsey County Court in St. Paul.

Protesters walk onto Interstate 94 on Friday in St. Paul after Philando Castile Verdict.

Easton Green

Protesters walk onto Interstate 94 on Friday in St. Paul after Philando Castile Verdict.

MN Daily Staff

Hundreds marched on I-94 in St. Paul Friday night, protesting the “not guilty” verdict in the police shooting case of Philando Castile.

The demonstrators started with a static protest on the State Capitol steps, and were reacting to the acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez by a Ramsey County Court jury earlier in the day.

At around 10:24 p.m., marchers moved from Dale Street North onto I-94. Protesters got onto the interstate without police presence, but police arrived to redirect traffic further down the highway almost immediately.

Last summer, another demonstration on the interstate led to over 100 arrests or citations after protesters threw rocks, bricks, bottles and fireworks at police.

Yanez, 29, shot Castile, 32, last July during a routine traffic stop. Castile’s death was live-streamed on Facebook and gained national attention after a string of other high profile police shootings of black men.

“I’m incredibly disappointed with the jury’s verdict … It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman,” Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, said in a statement.

Protesters held signs reading: “Philando still matters. Yanez Still Matters” and “When will black lives matter?”

Ramsey County charged Yanez with one count of second degree manslaughter and two counts of recklessly discharging a firearm.

Those attending the protest said they were outraged at the verdict and heavily criticized the criminal justice system.

University of Minnesota student and president of Women for Political Change Aruin Chowdhury said she was disgusted with the verdict but not surprised.

“The same people keep paying this price. The system clearly isn’t working,” Chowdhury said.

The rally was organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality and the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.

“The community is deeply disappointed with the jury’s verdict in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez for the death of Philando Castile and endangerment of Diamond and Dae’Anna Reynolds,” a press release from the organizations said.

Mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds said at the rally “We have a right to be sick and tired of being sick and tired … [Dayton] said we would get justice. Where is our justice Gov. Dayton?”

Olivia Sharpe, University junior attending the protest, said “I’m appalled to be a part of this system. I’m here because everyone needs to know what’s happening in this state.”

Yanez was fired by St. Anthony police, the City of St. Anthony said in a statement Friday afternoon.

“The public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city,” the statement said.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton said “Mr. Castile’s death was a terrible tragedy … I believe that, working together, we can make the changes necessary to secure both safety and justice, in all of our communities, for all Minnesotans.”