Hundreds of protesters turned violent and pelted Minnesota police with stones and crude incendiary devices. The clash between the people and police resulted in 21 law enforcement officials getting injured, and detention of more than a 100 people in Minnesota.
People protesting late Saturday and early Sunday, to the police killing in Falcon Heights of Philando Castile, turned hostile and began rioting on Interstate 94 in Minnesota. So far, 102 civilians have been arrested in the state, while a total of 198 citizens were put in behind bars in New York and Chicago and in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, collectively. U.S. President Barack Obama expressed sorrow about the violent protests and urged protesters and police officers to treat one another with respect.
The protesters in Minnesota not only shut down the busy interstate highway for quite a long while, they attacked the police with rocks, bottles, rebar and crude bombs, including the infamous Molotov cocktails.
At a press conference held Sunday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman detailed the incident that he termed “extreme and disgraceful,” reported the Star Tribune. He said protesters turned rioters and clashed with police officers in riot gear. He added arrests were made after the protesters started to target the police. Among the projectiles aimed at the police were rocks, rebar, bottles, bricks and incendiary devices, including fireworks and Molotov cocktails. Coleman stated 21 officers sustained injuries during the riots, but added that none of the injuries were life-threatening.
The protest began with a peaceful march from the Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s mansion at around 8 p.m. and eventually spilled onto the Interstate 94. Incidentally, protesters had been persistently demonstrating in front of Dayton’s residence for the past three days. Moreover, after the police managed to bring the unruly protest on I-94 under control, quite a few of the protesters who weren’t arrested, returned to protest in front of the governor’s house late Saturday night.
The march in Minnesota coincided with several similar demonstrations across America owing to the deaths of 32-year-old Philando Castile, a black man who was shot in a Minneapolis suburb by a police officer during a traffic stop, and 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. Sterling, who too was black, was shot after a scuffle with officers outside a convenience store, reported Fox News.
The protesters were loudly chanting refrains such as “We’re peaceful, y’all violent.” Sensing this could get unruly, the police began diverting traffic at about 7 p.m. and started attempting to get the crowd to leave the highway. As the Inquisitr reported, none of the protestors budged and the crowd kept on swelling. While some sat down on the highway, many others began singing Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The song has lately become an unofficial anthem in Minneapolis, since the killing of Pilando Castile last Wednesday.
Officers struggled to get the crowd to leave the Interstate for four hours. According to the New York Times, police eventually resorted to using smoke and marker rounds in a standoff that stretched into early Sunday before snowplows cleared debris and the highway was reopened to traffic. Police officers began arresting people at about 11:45 p.m. However, it took them more than two hours to clear the highway and get it operational again. Despite police action, many protesters were seen attempting to disrupt traffic.
Social media was abuzz with multiple posts and tweets from the protestors’ perspective. Quite a few tweets show a large barricade created by the police on both the sides of the interstate. Other tweets show the tense standoff between law enforcement and the protestors.
The police managed to reopen the I-94 at about 2:30 a.m., however, many officials were still deployed to ensure there was no more disruption. All the injured officers were treated for their wounds and are expected to resume their duties soon.
[Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images]