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Leaders denounce violence directed at police during protests in St. Paul

REUTERS/Adam Bettcher
Police are seen as people gather on I-94 Saturday night to protest the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.

Following Saturday night’s violence during protests in St. Paul, Paul Walsh and Claude Peck in the Strib say, “The violence perpetrated by some of the protesters against the police prompted denouncement in the strongest terms by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief Todd Axtell, who called the pelting of officers with rocks, bottles and other items ‘a disgrace.’ Axtell said 21 officers from all law enforcement agencies on the scene were injured in the mayhem. One of them suffered a broken vertebrae after a concrete block was dropped on his head … .”

The PiPress has a collection of comments from prominent politicians on the violent turn of events Saturday night. Said Al Franken:  “The attacks last night on state and local law enforcement that left 21 officers injured were completely unacceptable, do not advance the cause of justice, and make it more difficult for our communities to begin the long and difficult healing process.”

Peter Holley in The Washington Post picks up on a post by Kenyon, Minnesota police chief Lee Sjolander. “The chief may oversee a small-town department, but his organization boasts an outsize presence on Facebook, with more than 26,000 ‘likes.’ Much of the credit for the page’s popularity goes to Sjolander, who fills the timeline with candid journal-like entries to local residents that range from deeply personal to delightfully playful. … ‘We expect you to know the difference between the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law, and when to use your best discretion. We expect you to leave people better than you found them when you can, and never take away someone’s dignity. We expect you to be well-trained, and to know when, and when not to apply your training.’”

The Strib’s Brandon Stahl also has this. “A St. Anthony police officer pulled over Philando Castile because he was driving with a broken tail or brake light and he believed that Castile looked like a suspect from an armed robbery nearby that was reported a few days earlier, the officer’s attorney told the Star Tribune on Sunday.”

The Strib editorializes, “The problem is far greater than just disparate law enforcement. There is too much evidence in this country of systems that remain tilted against racial and ethnic minorities, whether it is education, employment, criminal justice, home buying or banking. What will it take to finally root out prejudice and racial injustice in a country that began its life enslaving part of its population? That is a question too broad for any single editorial. But we know that the happy talk of a ‘post-racial’ era that some indulged in with the election of this nation’s first black president was poppycock.”

And since these things must always have a partisan edge, we get this from Thomas Lifson at the AmericanThinker, a conservative blog. “Much of what we think we know about the shooting of Philando Castile by police in Minnesota is false.  But we shouldn’t be surprised, because the media sticks to The Narrative. … ”

Thoughts from Tim Worstall in Forbes on Essar Steel’s main problem. “Essar Steel Minnesota went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday as the State of Minnesota withdrew the state licences for the taconite the company was preparing to mine. It might seem a little odd that an Indian owned mine in Minnesota will go out of business as a result of the Chinese steel industry slowing down but that is what has happened. This globalisation thing really does mean that the international markets are connected in this manner.”

Semi-related. Adam Belz of the Strib says, “Minnesota businesses outside the Twin Cities are falling behind on creating new products, exporting and hiring, a study by the state’s biggest business group says. With crop and steel prices depressed, the outstate business climate has weakened in the past couple of years, a problem compounded by pronounced struggles to fill open jobs, according to data collected by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. … .”

It looks like an alien invasion. At The Weather Channel, Brian Donegan writes, “Residents of Iowa and Minnesota were treated to an incredible sight Sunday morning as a squall line of thunderstorms produced a shelf cloud sweeping through portions of those states. … A shelf cloud is the boundary between a downdraft and updraft of a thunderstorm or line of thunderstorms. Rain-cooled air descends into a thunderstorm’s downdraft, and then spreads out laterally when reaching Earth’s surface. Warmer, more moist air is lifted at the leading edge, or ‘gust front’, of this rain-cooled air.” But you already knew that, right?

Also in weather, Cody Matz at KMSP-TV says, “Some heavy rains fell in parts of Minnesota late Saturday and early Sunday prompting a couple of Flash Flood Warnings and plenty of puddles.  But the good news is that the heaviest of the rain fell in areas that really needed it. While the metro saw anywhere from a quarter to three quarters of an inch, parts of central and western Minnesota received more than 2 inches of liquid.  … While this isn’t a drought buster, it does certainly help and with more rain in the forecast, the area will likely see significant improvement to the soil moisture over the next few days.”

Last curtain for the Showboat. Says the AP, “What do you call a boat that doesn’t leave the dock and has a stage but no actors? The Minnesota Centennial Showboat. Since 1958, the University of Minnesota’s theater department has been staging summer productions aboard a vessel moored on the Mississippi River. But this summer’s show — which runs through Aug. 27 — will be the U’s last float on the boat. When the show closes, the future of the showboat, docked at St. Paul’s Harriet Island, is adrift.”

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Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/11/2016 - 08:00 am.

    Not entirely accurate

    The piece in “The American Thinker” does its best to defend the police officer shooting of Mr. Castile, and does make a couple of points worth noting, but overall is not as convincing as its author assumes. Attorney Albert Goins, in a ‘Strib front page article this morning, has pointed out that the officer involved failed to follow established protocol. If he was pulling over Mr. Castile because of resemblance to an armed robbery suspect, he should never have walked up to the side of the car and asked for a dirver’s license. A felony traffic stop involves drawn weapons on the part of police in positions of cover, and an insistence that the vehicle occupants leave the vehicle and lie on the ground until they can be identified.

    While we wait for some sort of definitive account, I’ve also noticed that, while several articles have pointed out that Mr. Castile apparently had a license to carry, and was, in fact, carrying a gun, nothing I’ve read so far in media accounts (aside from an implication in the “American Thinker” piece) has stated that Mr. Castile had a gun in the open and available to him. Until we’re provided with some sort of definitive account, I’ve not read anything to suggest why the officer involved opened fire at point-blank range. There’s been no description of any sort of perceived threat from Mr. Castile.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 07/11/2016 - 10:26 am.

      First, the American Thinker article is based entirely on an anonymous research from a blogger called “sundance” who the author of the article doesn’t know (but apparently was impressed with his/her coverage of a previous issue).

      It says “Ms. Reynolds also claims her boyfriend, Castile, was holding a concealed carry permit for a firearm that was resting on his left thigh” and then comes to the conclusion that “This also appears to be false.”. It gives no support for that conclusion other than he wasn’t issued a concealed carry permit by Ramsey County.

      Then it spends a lot of time disputing whether Castile had a Concealed Carry Permit, before saying it doesn’t matter. It repeats a tweet from Ramsey County saying they didn’t issue the permit and does say it was issued by another county. The July 9 Strib article says it was issued when he lived in Robbinsdale. It doesn’t take much of an investigative reporter to find out that Robbinsdale is in Hennepin County.

      But in the end, I suspect we’ll never get the clarity to change anyone’s mind – on either side.

  2. Submitted by Bill Siegel on 07/11/2016 - 08:58 am.

    Peaceful Protest

    Of the hundreds of people there, a very small number were aggressive towards police. Those individuals did not reflect the tone of the protest at all, and the organizers denounced the violence when it happened. That is not reflected in the chief’s statements or most of the media reports.

    Highlights from protest in St. Paul were the youth: a teenage girl on the way to a wedding reception who grabbed a sign and yelled “My life matters!” The little boys, wide-eyed as they watched protesters chant and dance on the highway. Babies in their fathers’ arms.
    With the exception of a few agitators in the crowd, the protest was peaceful and well organized. Protesters were calm when police set off concussion grenades, used pepper spray, and shot marking rounds into the crowd.

    I’m very upset about what the St. Paul Police Department has said about the protest and protesters. What we saw at the protest was not violence or riot. We saw community members standing up for each other.

  3. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 07/11/2016 - 09:22 am.

    If it were’n so sad….

    … would be laughable. You don’t need to search so hard for a partisan edge, just look to the Strib’s editorial pages.

    And now we have a commenter who believes 21 injured officers, one with broken vertebrae from concrete to the head result from a “protest that was not violent”. I guess each side is free to ignore the facts to stick to their Narrative.

  4. Submitted by Dan Berg on 07/11/2016 - 09:51 am.

    Sides of a coin

    Interesting that both protesters and police site the idea of a few bad actors being at fault for the violence that infects their ranks. Maybe both would do well to understand the importance and value of controlling the power they seek to project before simply projecting it.

    • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 07/11/2016 - 03:38 pm.

      If you’ve ever been to a protest…

      …then you know people show up at them with their own agendas, not solely to share in the ostensible subject of the protest. I can recall attending a protest of the first Gulf War when I was in college, and hearing speakers talk about all sorts of different points that had nothing to do with the unfolding violence in Iraq. And of course, let’s not forget the fellows who went to the Fourth Precinct protests solely to look for trouble with the protesters — those guys clearly were not there to support the protest’s goals.

      If protest organizers had to vet and approve every person who chose to attend a protest, then no protests would ever happen. Though perhaps that’s your point…?

      David Wintheiser

      • Submitted by Dan Berg on 07/12/2016 - 07:32 am.

        Not actually my point

        Not saying that each should be held to some perfectly equal standard, just that they should see some of the parallels that exist. The truth is both policing and protesting have inherent risk and the people that engage in either need to be aware and take responsibility for that risk. Then focus efforts on reducing the damage from their activities as much as they do their primary goals. That seems to be what everyone is asking for from both sides. This includes the language, coded or otherwise, they use to describe each other. Hate and violence begets hate and violence no matter the intent.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/11/2016 - 10:00 am.

    A useful article

    …is in the Washington Post, if the link below will work to access it. As is usually the case, there’s more than one side to these questions, though one may have a much better case than the other:

    The number of fatal shootings in the country is up – both shootings of civilians by police, and shootings of the police by civilians. Reasonable people might suggest the possibility of easy gun availability (300 million guns and counting) as a contributing factor.

    I also note two things that have yet to become part of the general debate over recent incidents, whether it’s civilians or the police who’ve been killed:

    First, I’m waiting for the response from 2nd Amendment zealots regarding the connection – or the lack thereof – between the easy availability of combat-oriented firearms and mass shootings. Another question that deserves clarification is whether Mr. Castile had a permit to carry a firearm, or only a permit to purchase a firearm. They’re not at all the same thing.

    Second, I’m also waiting for those who purport to be “pro-life” to take a position regarding that same ready availability of combat-oriented firearms. Where do alleged “pro-life” organizations stand regarding the question of the use of deadly force by the police? If they’re actively involved in the discussion taking place in the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile, it hasn’t been reported in the usual media outlets.

    • Submitted by Tim Walker on 07/11/2016 - 11:26 am.

      I’m waiting for the NRA, too

      Wait a second …

      Hasn’t the NRA spent a decade or two promoting the idea that we all need military-style assault weapons to protect us from the tyranny of the government?

      Well, wasn’t the shooter in Dallas exercising his 2nd Amendment right to protect himself from that tyranny?

      After all, his deadly actions were justified (in his mind) because of the tyranny of U.S. police forces that have oppressed blacks in this country.

      Now, before any responder attacks me for what I have written, let me be clear that I do NOT believe that the Dallas shooter was justified. Of course he wasn’t. He was a murderer.

      But, I make this point just to show how awful the NRA position is and how messed up its “logic” is.

      And certainly my point is to illustrate how awful it is when conservative, NRA-supporting elected officials or politicians tout “2nd Amendment solutions” to various problems … or merely people who they don’t like very much.

      That’s a very dangerous path to go down, and it’s sadly one that we may already be on.

  6. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 07/11/2016 - 10:38 am.

    Ray, you will have an infinitely long wait

    And where was the NRA defense of Mr. Castile? Driving while black is dangerous enough, but armed while black? Apparently that is a shooting offense. I read the article in the paper about the protocols for different types of traffic stops. It sure sounds like this was just another harassment of a black driver and the robbery suspect thing was tossed in to justify the officer’s cowardice.

    And on the racism front…while dining at the Chili’s restaurant on County Road 9 in Plymouth Saturday I was surprised to see a pickup truck driving down County Road 9 with two very large flags waving off the sides: the American flag and a Confederate flag. Felt pretty provocative. Since the Confederate flag is all about secession from the US and waving the American flag is supposed to be a sign of patriotism, I don’t really see how those flags go together. But seeing those flags on that truck sure gave me a pretty good notion of the kinds of people inside the truck. I was telling an Asian friend from Brooklyn Center about this today. Apparently this is a pretty common sight in his neighborhood.

    And for Rudy Giuliani and all the other white people that like to complain about BLM, the whole point of BLM (to a white guy like me) is to bring attention to how this white-dominated culture and its officials treat black people. I know I personally have never been stopped for no seat belt or tail light out or no registration. Just this weekend I failed to signal a turn in front of a cop monitoring an intersection. He ignored me. The sun must have reflected off my bald, white head and blinded him to my criminal behavior.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/11/2016 - 11:21 am.

      Waiting time

      Thanks, and I’m not holding my breath.

      Philosophically, of course, those two flags don’t go together at all – are almost diametrically opposed, actually – and, given that sort of intellectual confusion on the part of the pickup driver/passengers, I will guess that they think of themselves as “conservatives,” or Trump supporters, or perhaps both. Flying both flags certainly sends a mixed message – or, for the right audience, blows the appropriate dog whistle(s).

      An old white guy myself, I have no direct experience with what it’s like to “drive while black,” and I don’t carry a weapon, either. Mr. Castile’s record of minor/petty offenses suggests either a really, really bad driver, or some degree of harassment by the powers-that-be. I don’t know enough about the particulars to know which of the two was the more likely, but it’s pretty easy to draw inferences, depending upon one’s personal biases.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/11/2016 - 12:36 pm.

      Bill, unless you are contending that police are under orders to stop and shoot blacks with carry permits, the cops reaction all comes down to what the cop thought he heard, what he thought he saw, filtered through his training and experience, and managed by his reactive brain.

      Your claims of harassment and cowardice are as much a leap to a conclusion as the leap to a conclusion that the officer made. But he had a split-second to think and react. You’ve had almost a week and you have concluded that you know exactly what happened when you weren’t there and have no evidence of anything.

      As for stops related to lights, license plates, belts, I have been stopped for all of those over my 40 year driving career –in fact last month by an asian St. Anthony police officer for a seat-belt violation (he was enforcing on my non-compliance), and I’m an old white guy with white hair, driving a vehicle with untinted windows He came up to my window cautiously with his hand on his gun at 5pm on a sunny day. What does that prove about the incident in Falcon Heights? Nothing.

      • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 07/11/2016 - 03:34 pm.

        What does it prove?

        OK, I believe you when you say you were pulled over for a seat-belt violation. Heck, I was pulled over on Highway 100 less than a month ago for driving at night without having my headlights on. (I’d gotten the car back from the dealership repair shop that day and neglected to check the automatic headlights, which had been switched off by the mechanic.)

        Castile, though, if you believe the report, had been pulled over an average of once every two weeks for nearly two years. That certainly seems telling to me — I’m not sure how many times I’d need to be pulled over to start to get the idea that the police were focusing on me, or at least on people who look like me.

        Even if the likelihood of a mishap is wholly due to error and not due to harassment, and is equal for members of different races, the sheer number of times that Mr. Castile was interacting with police means that he was far more likely to be involved in such an incident than you or I. And unless someone can come up with evidence that each of Mr. Castile’s traffic stops was justified from a non-racial motivation (and I don’t consider ‘resembled the description of a suspect’ to be non-racial, as it’s been demonstrated that people distinguish fine details much more effectively in members of their own race than those of other races), it’s hard for me to escape the conclusion that race played a role in his death.

        David Wintheiser

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