Protest ensues after Yanez begins desk job at St. Anthony police department


Protesters began to gather at the entrance to the community center in St. Anthony Village around 10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19. The organizing group -- Justice Occupation for Philando -- said it would wrap up the protest around 4:30 p.m. so that participants could join a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who was scheduled to make a fundraising stop in Minneapolis that evening. (Jesse Poole/Bulletin)

Alex Cardenas of Mounds View silently holds a sign Aug. 19 in protest of Jeronimo Yanez returning to work as a St. Anthony police officer following the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Philando Castille during a traffic stop last month. (Jesse Poole/Bulletin)

Dane McLain of Minneapolis joins a group protesting officer Jeronimo Yanez's return to work at the St. Anthony Village Community Center. (Jesse Poole/Bulletin)

One protester approaches a man videoing protesters on his iPad. The recording had been going on for nearly an hour without an obvious end in sight. Through a heated conversation, the man in the car, at first reluctant to talk, eventually indicated that he was recording the protest with intentions to upload it to YouTube or to provide it to RT (Russia Today) news site. The protester, who happened to have some Russian language skills, used them to converse with the motorist. (Jesse Poole/Bulletin)

More than 100 people were expected to show up at some point at a day-long protest in St. Anthony Village Aug. 19.

The group gathered at the entrance to the community center in the 3300 block of Silver Lake Road N.E. in opposition to the news that St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez had returned to work Wednesday, Aug. 17, just over a month after fatally shooting 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.

The July 6 shooting of Castile, an African-American school cafeteria supervisor, led to local and national protests and has become part of an ongoing discussion regarding police-community relations nationwide.

According to St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth, Yanez will not return to patrolling the streets, but instead will work behind a desk, performing administrative tasks until the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation into the shooting is completed.

Once the BCA investigation is complete, the decision of whether Yanez will receive any criminal charges will be made by the Ramsey County Attorney's Office.

Individuals from various groups, including the St. Anthony Villagers for Action and Justice Occupation for Philando, were angered by the decision to allow Yanez to return to the department, especially since the investigation into the shooting incident is still underway. 

Voices from the crowd

Alex Cardenas, 24, of Mounds View was at the protest Friday morning.

"As a Latino, I've experienced racial profiling myself," Cardenas said. "Maybe not as bad as my parents, but I've seen it up front." He said he was not only there to protest Yanez's return to work, but also "a broader issue."

"You know, people think we're against all cops, but that's not true," he said, adding that he thought there should be better training and education for officers and more thorough background checks on new recruits.

"I'm standing here for the black community, for the brown and for the community in general," Cardenas said. "We're sick of this," he explained as he bent down to pick up a sign that read "Put Yanez behind bars not a desk."

Another protester, 30-year-old Dane McLain of Minneapolis, said he participates in protests because it's "one of the few avenues we can vent our frustrations.

"We have an overall frustration with the lack of oversight of the police on all levels," McLain said. "There hasn't been any disciplinary actions from the justice system for [Yanez]."

He said the small group that gathered Friday morning was mostly young people who had met at the first protests that took place at the Governor's Mansion in the wake of Castile's death.

"This small group of individuals are mostly young, and I have a lot of hope for them," McLain said. "I want to support them in this."

McLain, who said he was a high school teacher, said he's been to three or four protests since Castile's death. 

Protesting protests

Not everyone who showed up at the event was protesting Yanez's return to work at the St. Anthony police department.

Some folks stopped by for casual discussions, some asked questions, and others voiced objections to the protests. One man stopped his vehicle and yelled at the largely silent group holding signs along the edge of Silver Lake Road.

Another man who did not identify himself, but eventually drew a lot of attention, sat in his parked truck nearby filming the protesters with an iPad.

When he was first approached he refused to talk or explain why he was filming the event. Around 11 a.m., a small group of about seven protesters and media personnel went up to his vehicle to ask about his intentions.

According to people in the group, the man was either filming the protest to upload to YouTube or to provide to a news site called RT, or Russia Today. At one point, he reportedly said he did not care about the police, nor Castile, nor the protesters.

One of the protestors, who had some Russian language skills, conversed with the man in Russian.

Meanwhile, other protesters nearby stood with signs as numerous motorists drove by, either silently or honking their car horns in support.

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

 

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