St. Paul Police Chief: ‘I'm Absolutely Disgusted by the Actions of Some; We will not Tolerate it’

August 08, 2017 07:59 AM

Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell and Col. Matt Langer from the Minnesota State Patrol held a news conference regarding overnight protests Sunday morning.

"This has been a very, very long evening and early morning for the city of St. Paul," said Coleman. "Unfortunately last night, some of the individuals who gathered at the Governor's residence, decided to go from peaceful protest and exercise of the First Amendment rights, to rioting."


Chief Axtell spoke after Coleman.

"Last night, really was the first time in my 28 years as a police officer, that I had observed the level of violence that was directed towards public servants," said Axtell. "It's really a disgrace. Protesters last night turned into criminals. I'm absolutely disgusted by the actions of some. We will not tolerate it."

On Monday, protests continued in front of the Governor's Residence. Those were calm and peaceful.

Saturday and Sunday, 21 officers from multiple agencies were injured on I-94 and other areas of the city. #I94closed

Meanwhile, six Minnesota State Patrol troopers were injured during the incident.

"Those troopers and officers went right into harm's way and it was very difficult to watch and make decisions to put them in harm's way knowing they were being pelted, assaulted and thrown (at) with rocks, rebar and other items," said Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer.

Watch the news conference here.

Saturday and Sunday Protests

Police used smoke bombs to clear demonstrators blocking Interstate 94 in St. Paul late Saturday night during a protest sparked by the recent police killings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.

The smoke was used after about 200 protesters refused to leave the roadway just after midnight as police in riot gear slowly moved in.

A total of 102 people were arrested during the protests.

Crews cleaned debris off the road as crowds started leaving I-94 after over four hours of protesting and headed toward the governor's residence, where the protest originally began Saturday afternoon.

Around 9 p.m., St. Paul police officers negotiated with protesters to make "symbolic arrests." The protest remained peaceful until about 9:30 p.m. At one point, as the protest turned violent, children were removed from I-94 for safety measures.

Protesters began throwing objects, including fireworks, rebar, bricks and a molotov cocktail at officers, according to the St. Paul Police Department. There were 21 police officers injured from thrown objects, including a hit to the head from a 25 pound item, later identified as a concrete block.

According to another tweet sent by the department, the officer struck by the block has broken vertebrae.

St. Paul Police Department officers started using glass balls with smoke and marking rounds on aggressors. Protesters later covered their noses and mouths after a different form of gas was released. 

Police officers warned protesters it was an unlawful assembly and crowd and would be arrested if they did not disperse. 

Earlier Saturday evening, hundreds of protesters gathered at the governor's residence before crossing I-94 near Lexington Avenue around 8 p.m., blocking off the freeway in both directions. State Patrol officers redirected motor traffic as they cut off I-94 entrances at Dale Street.

Watch Chopper 5 aerial video of Saturday’s protest on Interstate 94.

Philando Castile Shooting Background

Thirty-two-year-old Philando Castile was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop Wednesday night in Falcon Heights.

Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter were also in the car. Diamond captured the aftermath of the shooting in a Facebook Live video.

As word of the shooting and the video spread, people gathered at the scene and then the Governor's Residence in St. Paul to protest.

Throughout Thursday, community members, the Minneapolis NAACP, Gov. Mark Dayton and others reacted to the shooting.

Demonstrations continued overnight into Friday, and the Ramsey County Attorney made his first public comments about the shooting.

Guide: Philando Castile Shooting Coverage


Nate Leding

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