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Vigils, rallies planned in Minnesota State Fair area

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- People heading to the Minnesota State Fair may see protests on their way or near the Fairgrounds.Since a St. Anthony police officer shot and killed Philando Castile on July 6 in Falcon Heights, near the Fairgrounds, demon...

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- People heading to the Minnesota State Fair may see protests on their way or near the Fairgrounds.
Since a St. Anthony police officer shot and killed Philando Castile on July 6 in Falcon Heights, near the Fairgrounds, demonstrations have been held throughout the Twin Cities. More are planned during the State Fair.
Those announced so far with proximity to the Fairgrounds are scheduled for Monday, the following Saturday, and Labor Day.
Jerry Hammer, State Fair general manager, said people going to the Fair on those days “shouldn’t notice much difference at all.”
The Fair has an emergency management plan that covers protest activity among other things, Hammer said. A Fair spokeswoman said the manual’s details wouldn’t be released because “it’s in the best interest of keeping everybody safe.”
From 5 to 8 p.m. on the two Mondays of the Fair, two St. Paul groups - Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace and Eastside Neighbors for Peace - plan to hold a vigil at the site where Castile was killed, on Larpenteur Avenue just west of Snelling Avenue.
People will gather on the grassy area near a peace garden established to celebrate Castile’s life. They intend to hold up signs, and they might chant, but they don’t plan to block traffic, according to a statement from Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace.
The aim is to “keep reminding the public of police brutality, especially overaggressive policing directed at people of color,” the group said in its statement. “Police killings are in the news for a few days or weeks and then are forgotten.”
The vigils are also intended to be “a place for people to gather and share their grief,” the group said.
Another demonstration is planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, beginning with a rally at Snelling and University avenues. Two groups - Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar and Justice4MarcusGolden - have scheduled an event called “MN State #AintFair - Rally for those murdered by the police.”
The groups are named for men fatally shot by police. Jamar Clark was killed in Minneapolis in November and Marcus Golden in St. Paul in January 2015.
A Facebook description said the groups will start with the rally and then barbecue at a local park.
Monique Cullars-Doty, Golden’s aunt, said they usually go into the streets during protests, though she doesn’t know the plan for Sept. 3. The purpose is to “bring attention to the crisis that we’re having, not only in Minnesota, but across the country,” Cullars-Doty said. “We have law enforcement that’s out of control and a system that’s so terrible that ... officers are not indicted.”
In the Golden case, a grand jury determined last year that officers were justified in using lethal force against the 24-year-old. Police say Golden sped in his vehicle toward an officer, nearly striking him.
During the Sept. 3 demonstration, St. Paul police will be working to “strike a balance between public safety and people’s right to make their voices heard,” said Steve Linders, a department spokesman. “We will also work to ensure that there is as little disruption to pedestrians, drivers and others as possible.”
Last year during the Fair, Black Lives Matter St. Paul organized a protest that began at Hamline Park and continued with a 75-minute march, blocking Snelling Avenue traffic. Organizers were calling for more attention to be paid to social and political injustices faced by minorities.
When protesters gathered outside the Fairgrounds, police rolled the gates shut to major entrances. The Fair’s manager said the protest had not been a major disruption.

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