Mayor, police chief promise zero tolerance if BLM protest disrupts marathon

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St. Paul's Mayor and police chief have warned that action will be taken against Black Lives Matter protesters if they succeed in disrupting this weekend's Twin Cities Marathon.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mayor Chris Coleman said that while recent BLM St. Paul protests at the State Fair and the Metro Transit Green Line did not lead to significant problems, the planned action at the marathon is a different case altogether.

He has asked St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith to make all options available to ensure runners can finish the marathon.

And at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Chief Smith has promised that the marathon "will not be disrupted" and that "runners will finish the race," according to FOX 9's Karen Scullin, saying anyone disrupting the race will face consequences.

"We will not tolerate any actions that interrupt the marathon," he added, according to MPR's Tim Nelson.

"While we are no less committed to the right to peacefully protest, these threatened actions pose an unacceptable risk to runners, spectators and protesters themselves," Coleman said in his statement.

Coleman says he has reached out to BLM St. Paul leaders and said he hopes to meet with them before the race on Sunday, to find out what they are asking of the city and police.

The Pioneer Press reports that according to legal experts, city police cannot take action against a protest based on its message, but "still have the legal right to ensure roads are clear."

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Mark Dayton has requested a meeting with protest organizers.

Will protesters stop runners from finishing?

Rashaed Turner, the BLM St. Paul member who is organizing the demonstration, told MPR News that his group will have a presence at the finish line of the marathon as they protest against police brutality.

However, he did not say if the group will stop runners from finishing the marathon.

He cited the recent death of Phillip Quinn, who was fatally shot by St. Paul officers last Thursday, telling MPR News: "No matter how close they get in this marathon to the finish line, it's just a marathon that they won't be able to finish. Phillip Quinn ... his race is over, permanently."

News of the protest has generated a widespread reaction, particularly from those running in the marathon, who argue disruption would spoil the year-long preparation for the race, as well as pointing out that it has a diverse range of participants, many of whom are running for charity.

The group has said the “shut down” of the popular race is also in support of Edna Waddle and her son, Tyree Tucker, who allegedly received a “beating” from a St. Paul Police officer at a church picnic last Sunday, according to a news release on Facebook.

Mayor Coleman said the issues raised by the group are currently under review by police, and he is confident that Chief Smith "will address these matters appropriately."

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