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Police arrest protesters outside governor’s home

ST. PAUL -- St. Paul police took several protesters into custody on Summit Avenue this morning outside the Governor's Residence as they seek to reopen the street to motorists.

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Protesters encamped Tuesday in front of the Governor's Mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul were told by police that they must remove their stuff, stay out of the street and not block the sidewalks. Vehicles were allowed into the blocked off area to pick up belongings and take them away. A handful of protesters were still sitting in front of the entrance to the building at 10 a.m. (Pioneer Press / Scott Takushi)

ST. PAUL -- St. Paul police took several protesters into custody on Summit Avenue this morning outside the Governor’s Residence as they seek to reopen the street to motorists.

Officers arrived at the encampment about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday and informed protesters - many of whom were sleeping - they would have to leave, said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman. It is the second time in nine days that police have tried to open the busy street, the target of round-the-clock protests since a July 6 police shooting.

“After some conversations among officers and protesters, and among protesters themselves, they cleared their belongings from the street themselves,” which included blankets and umbrellas, said Linders.

Police told the demonstrators “they’re welcome to demonstrate on the sidewalk in front of the governor’s mansion, but they won’t be allowed in the street or to block the sidewalks,” Linders said.

Several, though, vowed to stay in front of the mansion.

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Officers took several of the shouting protesters into custody about 10:45 a.m. after several hours of clearing. The street was reopened by 11 a.m. But several minutes later, traffic was blocked again as protesters walked out onto Summit. At about noon, additional arrests were being made.

Within hours of a St. Anthony police officer’s fatal shooting of black motorist Philando Castile during a July 6 traffic stop in the suburb of Falcon Heights, protesters flocked to the governor’s official residence in St. Paul. They have maintained a presence there since, with several large rallies and marches beginning and ending there.

Police had the street closed until July 18 but reopened it that day and told protesters they could not block traffic.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, demonstrators again went into the road and said they had no plans to leave anytime soon. Several nearby residents have expressed concerns about the traffic disruptions and noise from protests in the residential neighborhood.

The protests and marches related to the shooting in the nearby suburb have cost the city of St. Paul more than $1 million already, officials have said.

Gov. Mark Dayton, who made headlines when he said Castile would be alive today had he been white, has been pushing efforts to tackle Minnesota’s racial disparities, including a $100 million proposal during the most recent legislative session. The Legislature approved $35 million for racial disparities programs.

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