Black Lives Matter demonstrations turned violent Saturday night, escalating to riot level, after protesters brought I-94 in St. Paul to a halt for over five hours. 21 police officers were injured by the protestors including one who suffered a spinal fracture after having a concrete block dropped on his head. In total, more than 100 protestors were arrested. KARE 11 St. Paul reports:
52 were taken into custody for public nuisance and unlawful assembly during an incident around 4 a.m. at Grand and Dale in St. Paul and 50 were arrested for third-degree riot overnight on I-94. At least eight of the 50 people arrested by the State Patrol were from outside of Minnesota.
Public officials seemed surprised by the level of violence escalation that occurred during the protest. St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell had this to say during a press conference the next day:
Last night, really was the first time in my 28 years as a police officer, that I had observed the level of violence that was directed towards public servants. It’s really a disgrace. Protesters last night turned into criminals. I’m absolutely disgusted by the actions of some. We will not tolerate it.
Chief Axtell also commented on the presence of children at the protest, stating that some of the protestors were using kids as human shields against the police. He opined:
It’s really disgusting if you ask me. I can’t for the life understand why you would put a child into that position in the first place.
The mother of the recently deceased, alleged police brutality victim Philando Castile, was not pleased to see people have turned to violence. She released the following statement:
“When demonstrations become violent, it disrespects my son and his memory. Philando was a man of peace and dignity. Please, I ask you to at all times remain peaceful in your expressions of concern regarding his death at the hands of the police. I promise that we will not rest until justice prevails.”
We can only hope that people will respect her wishes and remain peaceful while seeking the justice they desire.