ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Police in St. Paul on Monday reopened the avenue in front of the Minnesota governor’s mansion that had been shut down by protesters since shortly after a suburban officer shot and killed a black man during a traffic stop nearly two weeks ago.
Officers informed protesters at 6 a.m. that they would no longer be allowed to occupy Summit Avenue “because they had created an ongoing public nuisance,” police spokesman Steve Linders said. Protesters voluntarily packed up and removed their personal belongings, he said, adding that everything was peaceful and nobody was arrested or cited.
“The protesters were told they were welcome to continue their protest on the sidewalk as long as it did not impede vehicle and pedestrian passage or involve structures or other obstructions,” Linders said.
Black Lives Matter protesters had been assembled outside the mansion where Gov. Mark Dayton lives since a few hours after 32-year-old Philando Castile was fatally shot July 6 by a St. Anthony Police Department officer in Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath live on Facebook.
Dayton, who is white, has suggested that race played a role in Castile’s death. The Democrat, who attended the school cafeteria worker’s funeral Thursday, had said protesters were welcome to stay outside his residence as long as they wanted.
His office declined to comment on Monday’s police action.
It was the second time that police had attempted to reopen the street. Officers cleared away tents, chairs and other property last Tuesday, but more protesters arrived within a few hours and closed the avenue again.
About 30 protesters stood on the sidewalk on Summit Avenue later Monday morning. Organizer Curtis Avent said they were hoping that more protesters would join them so police would have to shut down the avenue for public safety reasons.
He said police “attempted to violate our civil rights and remove us.”
While not as high-profile, the protests outside the Governor’s Residence since Castile’s death have been reminiscent of those last November and December after the Minneapolis police shooting death of another black man, 24-year-old Jamar Clark. Black Lives Matter protesters blocked the street outside a Minneapolis police station for more than two weeks before police tore down the demonstrators’ encampment, erecting high fences to dissuade others from trying to return.
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