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Third day of protests over Yanez verdict marked by march on St. Anthony

Plus: can Minnesota do more to make health care affordable?; Dru Sjodin’s killer to contest conviction at hearing; St. Paul loses two well-known musicians; and more.

Allysza Castile, sister of Philando Castile, speaking to reporters after St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty on all counts on Friday.
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig

The weekend brought more protests of the verdict in the Philando Castile case. At MPR, Doualy Xaykaothao reports, “On Father’s Day, demonstrators marched through parts of the city of St. Anthony to remember Philando Castile, and protest the acquittal of the officer who shot and killed him last July. It marked the third day of protests in the Twin Cities. … It was clear emotions were running high in the city where Yanez had worked as an officer. Some neighbors were seen crying in their front yards. Some motorists were annoyed by the protests. One driver confronted protesters and had to eventually turn his car around. Another person stopped to ask who is Philando Castile, and why are they protesting?” 

For the Strib, Pat Pheifer says protesters “were particularly angry that Yanez was being paid to leave and could end up as a police officer elsewhere. ‘Call Chief Mangseth,’ [organizer Corydon Nilsson] told the crowd. ‘Tell him no pay for a murderer.’ Abdi Iman of Eden Prairie wore a set of white wings made of feathers to the protest. ‘We just need to do better as a whole society,’ he said. ‘Injustice is not OK. We need to do better.’ … Many blamed elected officials — mayors, city councils and legislators — who they say empower police officers to shoot first and think later. Nilsson again referred to Minnesota as the ‘Jim Crow North,’ saying the ‘antiquated laws need correcting.’”

In the PiPress, a quartet of reporters write: “Conversations about police and community relations have been going on for decades, but after Clark was killed by Minneapolis police in November 2015 and Castile was killed by Yanez in July 2016, Minnesota’s politicians — particularly Democrats — vowed changes. The generally staid, self-satisfied Minnesota mindset would end, they claimed. In some ways, it already has. Democratic gubernatorial candidates for 2018 feel compelled to react to racial disparities. There’s a new “People of Color” caucus at the Legislature. And protests, policing and racial priorities have become a key part of the political dialogue. On a local level, this year’s city races have been infused with calls for changes on race relations. But with the Yanez verdict, politicians say more changes are needed.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was among those who commented on the verdict. According to John Breech at CBS, “After sending condolences to the Castile family, Kaepernick used the social media forum to compare modern police to the runaway slave patrol of the 1700 and 1800s. Kaepernick’s tweet was retweeted more than 30,000 times. 

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If Kaepernick has proven one thing over the past 10 months, it’s that he’s not going to stray from his message at any cost, even it means that NFL teams won’t sign him. Despite being arguably one of the top-3 quarterbacks on the free agent market this year, Kaepernick only visited with one team (the Seahawks), and he still hasn’t signed with anyone.”

Minnesota lawmakers need to do more to make health care affordable, the Strib editorializes: “The era of federal health care leadership that resulted in President Barack Obama’s health reforms is over. One Republican bill, the American Health Care Act or AHCA, has already cleared the U.S. House. … If enacted, the AHCA would substantially reduce consumers’ tax credit assistance and cut $834 billion from funding for Medicaid, which covers the poor. It’s up to states to fill that vacuum — a daunting task that includes filling the inevitable large funding gaps.”

Dru Sjodin’s murder is back before a judge, writes Dave Kolpack of the AP, “Attorneys for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., who has been on death row at a federal prison in Indiana since 2003, are disputing whether Rodriguez raped University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin and whether she died from having her throat cut. The defense says both points were used to unduly influence the jury in the death penalty phase. Prosecutors say the arguments have no merit. [Sjodin’s mother, Linda] Walker, who has grappled with seeing her daughter linked to Rodriguez over the years … said she plans to ‘fight for her now as much as possible.’ That means attending hearings that are difficult, as well as speaking out for other victims.”

Melvin Carter Sr. has died. Ross Raihala of the PiPress says, “Melvin Whitfield Carter Sr., a lifelong St. Paul resident and jazz musician who played with music legends, died Wednesday of heart failure at the age of 93. ‘Music brought him strength like spinach brought Popeye strength,’ said his son Melvin Carter Jr. ‘Music was his mistress. My mother always said she couldn’t compete against music.’”

As has Sonny Knight. Says Raihala again, “Twin Cities soul singer Sonny Knight, who enjoyed some of his most high-profile success in his 60s, died Saturday from lung cancer. He was 69. ‘I think he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever spent time with,’ said Eric Foss, drummer in Knight’s band the Lakers. ‘You’d spend all this time joking around with him and then he’d drop a profound – yet simple and beautiful – thing on you, whether it was musical or a pearl of wisdom from 65 years of life experience.’ A native of Jackson, Miss., Knight moved to St. Paul when he was 7.”