Thousands protest acquittal of officer who killed Philando Castile

A woman sings in support of Philando Castile during a rally on the capitol steps after a jury found St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Castile, in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S. on June 16, 2017. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

Thousands of protesters filled the streets of St. Paul on Friday night and 18 were arrested after a jury acquitted the police officer who killed Philando Castile, a black man shot seven times on dash cam video during a traffic stop for a broken taillight.

St. Paul police said approximately 2,000 people marched peacefully to the Minnesota State Capitol. A large canvas of Castile wearing a crown that read "Long Live the King" was surrounded by signs that read "Justice is dead" and "On Trial: The System. Verdict: Guilty!" the Star Tribune reported. Chants of "No justice, no peace" filled the air.

Some of the protesters dispersed after the march, but a smaller group converged on Interstate 94, blocking traffic in both directions. By 12:30 a.m. local time, only several hundred remained. Eighteen marchers were arrested after a 90-minute standoff with Minnesota State Patrol officers for failing to comply with orders to disperse, an agency spokesperson said.

The fatal July encounter between Castile and Jeronimo Yanez was broadcast by Castile's partner, Diamond Reynolds, on Facebook Live. Activists working to end police violence said they were shocked that the gruesome visibility of his death, which sparked weeks of nationwide protests, did not result in a different outcome for the officer.

Valerie Castile spoke about her son outside the courthouse following the verdict.

"The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all," she said. "My son loved this city. And this city killed my son."

On Friday evening, protest organizers told the crowd that their resistance had not failed.

"Some people will tell you protest don't work … They wouldn't have tried to put on the show trial if we hadn't protested," activist Mel Reeves said, referring to the protests that took place last summer, the Star Tribune reported.

It was the first time in the history of the state that a police officer was charged in a fatal shooting that happened on duty.

Marches opposing the verdict are planned for Saturday, in New York, Oakland and several other cities.

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