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Prosecutors begin charging those arrested in I-94 riot

ST. PAUL -- St. Paul prosecutors began filing charges Monday against those arrested in the Interstate 94 protest over the police killing of Philando Castile.

ST. PAUL -- St. Paul prosecutors began filing charges Monday against those arrested in the Interstate 94 protest over the police killing of Philando Castile.

At least 35 people were charged as of 3:30 p.m. All but one faces a charge of third-degree riot, which is a misdemeanor, as well as two other misdemeanors - public nuisance and unlawful assembly. One is charged with two counts of second-degree riot while armed with a dangerous weapon.

They are scheduled to make first court appearances Tuesday morning. The city attorney’s office is seeking $1,500 bail and $50,000 for the man facing the more serious charges.

The criminal complaints filed so far Monday afternoon in the third-degree riot cases include the same allegations: That there were about 300 protesters blocking traffic on I-94 on Sunday when, at 9:15 p.m., protesters “began throwing rocks, cement chunks, rebar, bottles, and other items at the law enforcement officers.”

Some protesters “dropped cement and rebar from an overpass onto the officers,” the complaints continued. Protesters “also shot fireworks and pointed lasers at the officers.”

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Minnesota State Patrol troopers arrested 50 people in connection with the interstate incident.

Protesters marched onto I-94 in St. Paul from Lexington Parkway on Saturday night, causing the highway shutdown in both directions between downtown and Minnesota 280 from about 7:30 p.m. Saturday to 1:30 a.m. Sunday, according to St. Paul police.

Police said they issued more than 25 dispersal orders before state troopers arrested people on suspicion of third-degree riot, a gross misdemeanor.

“Over the weekend, rioters endangered others when they stormed Interstate 94, refused to follow more than two-dozen orders from law enforcement officers to leave the freeway, and instead opted to participate in an incident that developed into a full-scale riot,” City Attorney Samuel Clark said in a statement Monday morning.

Police said 21 officers were injured when people threw rocks and other projectiles, including a 25-pound block of concrete that struck an officer’s head from above, breaking a vertebrae. Black Lives Matter St. Paul and Minneapolis leaders have said the people throwing objects were not from their community.

Authorities said Monday they believe the violence was not led by Black Lives Matter St. Paul, said St. Paul Police spokesman Steve Linders on Monday.

“We’re getting messages and people posting on social media that Black Lives Matter St. Paul instigated the riot that took place on I-94,” Linders said. “That’s not true. The leader of Black Lives Matter St. Paul was in touch with Chief Axtell and others at command staff to find out how he could bring the violence to an end and he was working to do that. … They have protested in our city numerous times and have always been peaceful.”

The St. Paul city attorney’s office “is currently reviewing evidence from the event, including police reports, photos and video to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge at this time,” Clark said in the statement Monday morning. “We will make that initial determination as soon as reasonably possible and before the 10 p.m. deadline by which those arrested can be held without being charged.”

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Prosecutors have 48 hours from the time of arrest to make a charging decision.

Individuals “are not entitled to bail until they have been charged,” the city attorney’s office statement said.

After the I-94 arrests, police stopped protesters walking on Grand Avenue near Dale Street early Sunday and arrested 52 people. They were cited for public nuisance and unlawful assembly - both misdemeanors - and released, police said.

Before Saturday, protests over the killing of Castile had been largely peaceful. Castile, 32, of St. Paul, died after he was shot by a St. Anthony police officer in Falcon Heights during a traffic stop. His fiancée, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting , sparking outrage across the nation.

Related Topics: BLACK LIVES MATTER
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