On Friday, June 16, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez was fully cleared of all charges relating to the shooting of African-American Philando Castile, who died as a result of the incident. The next day, 150 protestors gathered in Minneapolis to rally for justice in his name. By the end of the night, 18 were taken into custody for blocking access to Interstate 94, in the nation’s capital of St. Paul.
According to The Washington Post, this was not planned by the march’s organizers. A statement was given by Samantha Pree-Stinson to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, prior to the rally, in which she was adamant that none of the participants would be demonstrating on the freeway.
These protestors, however, not only crowded the Minnesota freeway but then refused to leave despite repeated warnings from police. An MSP spokesperson says the arrests began at approximately 12:30 a.m., following a total of three orders issued for them to leave the area. The charges those booked at Ramsey County Jail faced included that of being a pedestrian on a busy freeway, and thus interrupting traffic flow. I-94 is said to have been blocked for at least two hours.
Philando Castile’s death occurred in July of last year, after he was pulled over by Yanez and another Minnesota law enforcement official. He was traveling with both his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter. Upon being asked for his licence and registration, says Reynolds, her boyfriend informed the officers that he had a permit to carry and as such was armed.
After reaching for his identification, Yanez fired at the man seven times, allegedly fearing for his life and believing Castile was actually planning on pulling out the weapon in question. Approximately 20 minutes after being taken to hospital, the victim succumbed to his wounds. Reynolds filmed an aftermath video, which included her interactions with the two officers as her partner bled profusely due to the gunshots. His death was ultimately ruled a homicide due to the number of bullets fired during the incident.
Although Yanez has since been fired by Minnesota’s city of St. Anthony, there is still a high level of outrage regarding the outcome of the situation. As revealed by Yahoo! News, many feel that the termination of the officer’s employment is not enough, and that he should be criminally charged. Various social media websites, most specifically Twitter and Facebook, have recently been flooded with posts asking for justice for all of the African-Americans who have lost their lives over the years as a result of police shootings.
By Lorelai Zelmerlow
Photo Courtesy Twitter