On Saturday evening, the I-94 was shut down between Highway 280 to the downtown St. Paul exit as police tried to disperse protesters angry over the death of 32-year-old Philando Castile last Wednesday. According to the Star Tribune, up to 300 protesters blocked the I-94 in both directions, and dozens of police officers were sent to open the road.
— marissa (@marissakieferr) July 10, 2016
The I-94 was shut down as police began diverting traffic at about 7 p.m. and trying to get the crowd to leave the highway. However, protesters continued to join the demonstration. Some sat on the highway. Many sang Prince’s “Purple Rain,” which, according to the Star Tribune, has become an anthem, of sorts, in Minneapolis, since the killing of Pilando Castile last Wednesday.
About five police officers were injured in the I-94 protest. USA Today reported that demonstrators threw things at the police officers, including molotov cocktails and rocks.
Let’s see what gets more coverage tomorrow – the attacks on police in St. Paul tonight or Deray’s stunt? pic.twitter.com/KuQtcbSwMJ
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) July 10, 2016
The I-94 shut down continued until after midnight ET, with police beginning to arrest protesters at about 11:45 p.m. 9News reported that the police finally succeeded in clearing the highway by about 1:30 a.m. ET. However, as can be seen in the video uploaded to Twitter below, police are still on site to prevent demonstrators from returning to the road.
USA Today reports that the demonstration began in front of Governor Mark Dayton’s residence. Protesters have been demonstrating in front of his house for the past three days and moved out onto the I-94. Many of the demonstrators returned to the protest in front of the governor’s house by about 1:30 a.m. this morning.
Protesters on the I-94 uploaded their own videos of the demonstration to social media outlets such as Twitter.
— Black Lives MPLS (@BlackLivesMpls) July 10, 2016
One protester kept a running commentary on Twitter of the demonstration on the I-94.
They blocked the exit. Omg. Protestors are stuck and police are moving in quickly. #PhilandoCastile— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
Protestors and cops are coming to a head. And still we chant black lives matter. #PhilandoCastile— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
Holy shit. They are rushing on protestors with batons. They've started arresting the front line. #PhilandoCastile— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
Police just threw out tear gas and firecrackers. We can no longer see all the protestors. #PhilandoCastile— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
Police are throwing firecrackers at protestors. THERE ARE CHILDREN. Protestors respond with water bottles. #PhilandoCastile— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
POLICE STARTED SHOOTING RUBBER BULLETS AT THE BRIDGE WE ARE ON. THERE ARE KIDS AND ELDERS UP HERE. #PhilandoCastile— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
But I seen hella police as I was leaving so stay safe to y'all that were there.— Sara (@petitapetite) July 10, 2016
The I-94 shut down was finally over by about 2:30 a.m., according to a Tweet from the Star Tribune.
Update: Interstate 94 in St. Paul reopens after hourslong protest. https://t.co/f6YBMZIs7z
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) July 10, 2016
Castile was in the car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter when he was pulled over by police. Apparently a tail light was broken. Castile reportedly told the police officers that he was carrying a gun and was licensed to carry. As he reached for his ID, police shot him.
USA Today quoted statements made by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at a press conference. Dayton claimed that had Castile been white, he would be alive today. That is not necessarily true, however. Data on statistica.com regarding characteristics of victims of police shootings are show that twice as many whites are killed by police than blacks.
This does not, however, give any details regarding the context of the shootings. Some may be totally senseless killings, such as that involving Philando Castile. On the other hand, some shootings likely occured during the commission of a crime.
The day before Castile was killed, another senseless shooting resulted in the death of Alton Sterling, 37. Sterling apparently had a history of criminal behaviors, but at the time he was killed, he may not have been a danger to anybody. Both these shootings will be investigated.
Black parents are desperate regarding how to keep their children safe.
The I-94 is not the only scene of protest. The Daily Mail reported on Saturday demonstrations in Baton Rouge, San Francisco, Denver, New York City, Miami, Pittsburgh, Newport and Salt Lake City.
[Photo by Joe Danborn/AP Images]