Protesters again shut down street in front of governor’s mansion

ST. PAUL -- Protesters took over the street in front of the Governor's Residence again Sunday night, shutting down Summit Avenue traffic at 5 p.m. and saying they had no plans to leave anytime soon.

Protesters chant and dance during a demonstration against the police shooting and killing of Philando Castille and other people of color, shutting down Summit Avenue in front of the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul, Sunday afternoon, July 24, 2016. ( Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

ST. PAUL -- Protesters took over the street in front of the Governor’s Residence again Sunday night, shutting down Summit Avenue traffic at 5 p.m. and saying they had no plans to leave anytime soon.

It was the latest shutdown by protesters camped in front of Gov. Mark Dayton’s gated residence in response to the July 6 shooting death of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer making a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. The block-long stretch was shut down for two weeks after the shooting. The busy thoroughfare re-opened last week when police asked protesters to stop blocking traffic. At that time, protesters voluntarily moved to the sidewalks or left.

Jacob Ladda, who said he has been camping in front of the governor’s mansion since July 7, said the shutdown would continue until St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged in the shooting death.

“This is an occupation,” Ladda said. “We have the right to be here. This is our street, too. The people want justice. The system wants the street to be open. We don’t want to be here. We want justice.”

Castile’s sister briefly took the microphone during Sunday’s gathering.


“I don’t know you guys, but I can’t express how much I love you,” Allysza Castile said. “We are all at risk. Police can just shoot us and go home to a paycheck.”

Sunday’s protest involved water balloons, squirt guns, music, spoken word and bubbles.

“This occupation is running on bottled water and love,” Ladda said as a woman handed him a Vitamin C pill.

“Today is not about hate,” he later told the crowd. “Today is about love.”

Before protesters took to the street, Ladda contacted St. Paul police and the State Patrol to let them know it was going to happen.

A couple who live on the block but did not want to give their names for fear of retaliation said the protests had set a precedent that would forever negatively affect home values there. Nobody would want to buy a home on that stretch now, they said.

“We feel like we’re being sacrificed,” the woman said. “The (protesters) should be at the State Capitol.”

The couple said that they feel unsafe and are worried the protests could turn violent and “explosive.”


“There are children who live on this block,” the woman said.

St. Paul Police Commander Kevin Casper said that his department has established good partnerships with the protesters and the neighbors.

“We want to respect the right to protest and respect the rights of the neighbors,” he said. “We’ve handled this in a way that respects the protesters, respects their message, and respects what they are trying to accomplish, and we ask them to in return please respect the neighbors and their safety.”

Casper said that he was working with Ladda to get the block opened by 10 p.m. Sunday night.

“If not by 10, then by 11,” Casper said. “We will wait a reasonable time where we won’t have to force anyone to leave.”

Fliers were passed out at the protest announcing that protesters will shut down two city-owned liquor stores in St. Anthony at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“We want to cut off their profits because they are killing our people,” said a woman who identified herself as Stephanie B.

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