Protesters marched from the Falcon Heights site of Philando Castile’s shooting to the State Fairgrounds’ main gate Saturday afternoon, leading to a brief closure of the gate before they retreated and dispersed.
They did not enter the fairgrounds, and no one was arrested.
About 75 protesters gathered late in the morning at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street, near where Castile was shot to death July 6 by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop, an event that sparked protests nationwide.
Carrying fake coffins and signs calling for justice for Castile and other black men killed by police officers, they then marched to the fair’s main gate at Snelling and Midway, where they laid down the coffins. Along the way, they staged a “die-in” at Snelling and Larpenteur. Some protesters declared their intention to shut down the fair.
No one was allowed in or out for about 15 minutes as officers ordered the protesters to disperse, which they eventually did, walking back to the Castile shooting site. They left the fake coffins, which police soon loaded into vans and took away.
From inside the fairgrounds, people watched the brief confrontation, some of them applauding, apparently for the officers. One protester shouted to fairgoers, “I know this is inconvenient for you, but so is murder!”
The protesters’ primary demand, in chants and conversation, was that Yanez be charged within the next few days.
“It’s not just that we want to be here,” Monique Cullars-Doty, the aunt of Marcus Golden, a 24-year-old black man shot by St. Paul police in January 2015, said at the early rally. “We have to be.”
The protest was held as Castile was laid to rest by his family in St. Louis. It appeared to have been organized by several groups focused on police shootings of black citizens.
In an announcement unrelated to the fair protest, Rashad Turner said Saturday that he is stepping down as lead organizer for Black Lives Matter St. Paul.
“As I take the next step in my journey on this path that God has placed me on, I realize that I need to hone in on what I’m most passionate about, education advocacy,” he wrote on social media.
“I will still be involved in the fight for criminal justice reform, and black lives, but from a different angle.”