Protests surrounding the death of Antonio Castile led by the black activist Al Sharpton continued to disrupt the business district of the city of St Paul, Minnesota, on Monday as they made their way to a mall in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Protesters draped a banner over the four-story skyline to dramatize what they have labeled a situation of “police terrorism” after Castile was shot during a traffic stop by a white police officer. Protests, including Monday’s death of a 56-year-old construction worker by police, have heightened racial tensions in the Twin Cities.
In his statement, Sharpton said Castile’s passenger, Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, had told him in a Facebook message: “The police can’t tell me why they shot my boyfriend. They won’t tell me anything.”
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After the shooting, Reynolds live-streamed his shooting. Officers shot him after he tried to drive away after saying that he had a pistol. He died on Wednesday.
The other incidents have been registered as “civilian encounters”, which is a category designed to avoid releasing information that could impede police investigations.
“The most concerning aspect of what they are calling these incidents is that there is no critical event and they say that they need to take the guns away from people to deter them from doing what they have done and that is actually to respond to a call of a car, which isn’t a crime,” Sharpton said.
“That happened here in 2008, a white man called police on black people on the street, got police cars to surround, shut down a major thoroughfare and arrested them all.”
Theresa Young, 33, was one of the protesters who braved the heat to gather in St Paul’s University Avenue, where they yelled “we want answers” from a raised platform. “This is a black community; black lives do matter,” she said.
“All lives matter,” another woman said.
Speakers questioned why the Twin Cities police department is growing undermined by disciplinary problems.
After clearing a candlelit circle, several crowd members carried a large banner on to a bridge as they sang: “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”
People protest the death of John Crawford at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio. Photograph: AP
Other speakers questioned why video footage from Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s body camera was not released. “The protection of the police is actually a threat to people’s health,” Sharpton said.
Yanez, who has been cleared of all criminal charges, said he thought Castile was reaching for a gun after he pulled him over for a broken tail light.
Robert Haus, who was giving a speech at a Native American rally near the campus of the University of Minnesota, was struck by a projectile from a metal stick during the protest.
“I was thrown from my chair, and it was what we call a rubber bullet, and I could not feel anything but the sensation of my own blood dripping down my forehead.”
Asked whether he saw any connection between the shootings of Castile and the one in June of John Crawford III at a Walmart, Haus said: “In a different climate, it could very well have been the same.”
The store footage indicates that several other store employees did not intervene when Crawford was shot. “It wasn’t an accident, that was definitely a gun – it didn’t have a headlight.”
Haus was not injured.