One of the Minnesota State Fair’s main entrances was blocked for a short period on Saturday afternoon, as protesters marched through the streets and to the gate to bring awareness to police shootings.
Protestors first gathered at the intersection of Larpenteur and Fry – the site where Philando Castile was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer in July.
From there they marched down Snelling, as police blocked traffic in both directions along the main thoroughfare for about an hour. The demonstrators also blocked Gate 5 at the State Fair for about 30 minutes, before heading back to their initial gathering place.
The second Saturday is generally the busiest day of the State Fair.
The point of the protest
Upbeat music with a justice theme drifted from speakers as protestors held up signs and encouraged those sitting in State Fair traffic to honk for support. Each time a car honked in support protestors would cheer.
The protest was organized to “call attention to the police killings that especially (but not solely) target black people and other people of color,” said the news release.
“That #AintFair,” organizers said in the release, to explain the name of the protest. “We want justice for all stolen lives. We want justice for Philando Castile and Jamar Clark, whose names made international news, as well as those who stories were never told. Their lives matter.”
Castile’s family meanwhile was in St. Louis on Saturday to lay Philando to rest, according to the release.
Family of people killed by police speak
Monique Cullars-Doty, the aunt of Marcus Golden – who was fatally shot by St. Paul police last year – was one of the main speakers at the protest.
According to Cullars-Doty, protest organizers are hoping to establish a permanent memorial in the spot that Philando Castile died – where they stood chanting on Saturday.
“We are here standing in solidarity with Philando’s family. We are not going to let the officers and a system sweep his death under the rug,” Cullars-Doty said, adding: “We are here to show solidarity that all lives matter – anyone who has been killed by police.”
Another relative of a man who was fatally shot by Minnesota officers also took a turn at the mic.
Map Kong was shot to death by Burnsville police officers in March of this year. His cousin described Kong to the crowd as “a good person and a good father” who was was “just doing his best.” He said that Kong had always been looking out for him since they were young.
To symbolize those fatally shot by officers, protestors made 10 caskets out of paper with flowers on top to carry in the march. On one end of each casket was a sign explaining what happened to the victim. On the other end was sign with one of the 10 demands for change from AR-14 for Justice – the organization that led the protest.
Protest moves from site of shooting to State Fair gates
Protestors first carried the caskets and signs while chanting down to the intersection of Snelling and Larpenteur. There, they lay in the intersection for about a minute to acknowledge the dozens of times Castile had been pulled over by police officers. They also put up their hands to symbolize “don’t shoot.”
The protestors then carried on down Snelling Avenue toward the fairground’s eastern entrance.
At one point, the protest passed about 20 law enforcement officers who stood off to the side. Protestors yelled and waved their signs in the officers’ direction.
After the protest continued down Snelling, some fairgoers behind the officers cheered in support of law enforcement.
Shortly after, the protesters blocked traffic in both directions on Snelling Avenue for about a half hour in front of the fair entrance. Gate 5 was closed for a bit to fairgoers, who had to walk to different entrances. Traffic on Snelling was diverted for a period too.
Protestors argue it may be a slight inconvenience for fairgoers, but not as inconvenient as being killed by police.
St. Paul police officers used microphones to demand the protestors to get out of the intersection. They refused, and continued their chanting. After about a half hour, they turned and went back to where they came from.