St. Anthony closes down municipal liquor stores ahead of protests

Nearly 75 protesters gathered outside St. Anthony City Hall Saturday, July 30, and began their march toward the first of two city-owned liquor stores.

Their aim, according to the chanting crowd, was to shut down the municipal liquor stores as an active way to decrease revenues for the city, and thus, it’s police department, following the July 6 police shooting of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Castile was shot and killed by a St. Anthony officer.

The group of both white and black protesters headed down Silver Lake Road towards the first of two shops they planned to visit.

Once they reached St. Anthony Village Wine and Spirits at 2700 Highway 88, however, they found it had already been closed, with a sign in the window that stated it would be closed for the remainder of the day, apologizing for the inconvenience. 

 

Both stores close

Catching wind of the protest, the city decided to close both its liquor stores before marchers could even arrive at the doors. 

“It’s disappointing that some feel the need to go beyond just expressing their thoughts and raising their opinions to actions that impact others,” St. Anthony City Manager Mark Casey said in an interview. “It’s important for us all to have a real conversation about these issues, but it changes when one person’s actions impacts the ability of someone else to go to work or shop at a store.”

The two liquor stores closed down hours before their typical 10 p.m. closing time.

 

How much do they make?

According to reports, protesters altered the “no justice, no peace” chant, instead exclaiming “no justice, no profits.”

St. Anthony Village Wine and Spirits and its sister location at 2602 39th Ave. N.E., Casey said, generate just less than $7,000 in gross profits on a typical Saturday — that’s before expenses are paid, he noted, adding that closing the stores early July 30 created a total loss of about $4,300.

As to whether the loss of revenue would affect the police department’s budget, Casey said, “Law enforcement services make up a significant part of the City of St. Anthony’s annual budget. Approximately 49 percent of the annual budgeted general fund expenses are used to operate the police department.”

 

A difficult balance

“We understand the level of concern and interest people have in the incident and other factors connected to it,” Casey continued. “We also have an important role to manage and run the city in the best way possible. Our challenge is finding the right balance.”

According to Casey, this balance has been “very emotional and challenging for our community.”  

Protests and other events, he acknowledged, can give people a way to share their thoughts and opinions. Casey said the decision to close the liquor stores early was a way to let that expression happen “while also managing the situation.” 

According to Casey, city staff is working hard to not only “serve the community as this issue and process moves forward, but to also look at the broader issues that are connected to what happened.”  

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at twitter.com/JPooleNews.

 

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