At least 18 people were arrested in Minnesota overnight during a protest that shut down a major highway, following the acquittal of the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile.
Thousands of protesters gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol and marched through the streets of St. Paul on Friday night to decry the not guilty verdict returned by a jury in the manslaughter trial of former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. An estimated 2,000 people participated in the march, part of which shut down a major highway, according to the St. Paul Police Department.
Yanez, 29, shot Castile, 32, multiple times on July 6, 2016, seconds after the black motorist alerted the officer that he was carrying a gun, during the traffic stop. Castile had a permit for the weapon.
Yanez, who is Latino, was charged with second-degree manslaughter.
The mostly-white jury deliberated for some 29 hours over the course of five days this week before reaching the not guilty verdict. After the verdict was read Friday afternoon, the city of St. Anthony swiftly announced plans to dismiss Yanez, despite his acquittal. City officials said they would offer him a “voluntary separation” because they had determined “the public will be best served” if he is no longer an officer in St. Anthony.
Friday’s march remained largely peaceful. Seven people were arrested during the massive demonstration near the state Capitol and no injuries were reported, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
But as darkness fell, a smaller crowd splintered off from the march and walked down an entrance ramp to block Interstate 94. An estimated 500 protesters snarled traffic and forced police to shut down the freeway in both directions, the Minnesota State Patrol said.
Police ordered the protesters to disperse and the crowd eventually moved off I-94 mainlines and onto an entrance ramp. By early Saturday morning, at least 18 people had been arrested for failing to leave the freeway. They were booked at Ramsey County Jail, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.