Justice for George

Aftermath of George Floyd Killing Hits West St. Paul

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Widespread protest and looting is hitting the Twin Cities in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. A number of retail stores on Robert Street in West St. Paul have closed, and some have been hit by looters.

The situation is changing by the minute and it’s hard to confirm details. We’ll share what we can as we can in this evolving story.

Wednesday, June 10:

Sheriff Statement: Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie released this statement about the death of George Floyd:

“We have much work to do to restore trust where it is wavering and build trust where it never existed in the communities we serve. People of color, and specifically Black community members, live in fear of what the presence of our uniform means for their safety when in fact, the uniform we wear should serve as the very embodiment of safety and protection; and for that we have failed. We need to work to regain that support. Without that we are nothing.”

Monday, June 8:

Police statement: Today the West St. Paul Police Department released a statement attempting to answer some of the many questions raised by the public in light of the death of George Floyd. Those questions include the department’s use of force policy, a duty to intercede requirement, and officer trainings.

Tonight the West St. Paul City Council will direct the Public Safety Committee to review the police department’s Use of Force policy.

Sunday, June 7:

Unity March: Today West St. Paul and South St. Paul joined together for a peaceful Unity March to remember George Floyd and demand change. Roughly 100 to 150 showed up for the three-mile march that began at Roosevelt Field in South St. Paul and ended at the Sports Complex in West St. Paul. Volunteer reserve units from the South St. Paul and West St. Paul police departments escorted the marchers.

Read our interview with Unity March organizer Marisa Fuglestad.

Saturday, June 6:

There is a gathering in Harmon Park today at 2 p.m. and a Unity March from South St. Paul to West St. Paul on Sunday. Read our interview with march organizer Marisa Fuglestad.

Friday, June 5:

  • Protest: A peaceful protest has been happening at Albert Park every day from 4 to 5 p.m. Today West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon showed up to answer questions.
  • City Council: On Monday, West St. Paul’s City Council will direct the Public Safety Committee to review the police department’s Use of Force policy.

Thursday, June 4:

  • 8:43 p.m. – Relief drives: There are an exploding number of food and supply drives happening in West St. Paul:
    • Friday, June 5 from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Heritage Middle School, organized by the Henry Sibley Dance Team.
    • Friday, June 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nowak’s Liquor and Black Sheep Coffee in South St. Paul, a joint SSP/WSP effort.
    • Friday, June 5 from noon to 5 p.m. in the Oxendale’s parking lot (not sure who organized this, but details here).
  • 1:30 p.m. – Police update: The West St. Paul Police Department is looking for help as they investigate vandalism and looting from last week. Some vandalism has remained unreported and they’re also looking for photo or video evidence. However, they also note: “We do NOT need pictures or video of peaceful protesters. The protesters in West St. Paul (and most other cities) have remained peaceful and law abiding while getting their message across. Thank you all so much. Again, please know that we see you, we hear you, and we take your frustrations to heart.”
  • 1:15 p.m. – Unity March: There’s a Peaceful Unity March planned for Sunday that will begin in South St. Paul and end in West St. Paul. People will begin gathering at Roosevelt Field in South St. Paul at noon with the march to begin at 12:30. It will end at the Sports Complex in West St. Paul. This family friendly event will stick to sidewalks and is encouraging social distancing and wearing masks.

After the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, communities all over the nation have been coming together to STAND UP against racial discrimination and police brutality against black people.

Wednesday, June 3:

Sign seen in West St. Paul on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 2:

  • 2:36 p.m. – No Curfew Tonight: Joint update from the City of West St. Paul and the West St. Paul Police Department says there will be no curfew tonight. “The events we have seen in West St. Paul is something we have never seen before. The peaceful demonstrations continue with our support as is dialog taking place between the community and officials. We are proud of our community and will continue to provide excellent service to each and every one of you.”
  • 12:23 p.m. – Harmon Park Gathering: Local resident Taurean Garrett is hosting another neighborhood gathering at Harmon Park on Saturday at 2 p.m. to talk about how to destroy systemic racism. Wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • 12:15 p.m. – Need Food?: There will be a drive-up food pantry at the Dakota County Northern Service Center on Mendota Road on Friday from noon to 3 p.m.

Monday, June 1:

  • 5:10 p.m. – West St. Paul Curfew: The West St. Paul Police Department has extended the curfew. It starts tonight at 10 p.m. and ends at 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning. This is similar to curfews in Minneapolis and St. Paul, though Dakota County as a whole no longer has a curfew and has left it up to cities.
  • 11:00 a.m. –How to help: If you want to help with relief supplies, State Senator Matt Klein is pointing to a drop-off event in the Oxendale’s parking lot on Friday, June 5 from noon to 5 p.m. A coordinated drop-off can minimize the the back and forth between cities and hopefully minimize any COVID-19 spread (we are still in a pandemic, remember?). There’s also the local pad drive we mentioned below.

Sunday, May 31:

  • 10:35 p.m. – West St. Paul Police update from 9:44 p.m.: “Things continue to be quiet around town. We had a few reports of gunfire but were able to confirm they were fireworks.”
  • 5:40 p.m. – Sidewalk chalk: Competing perspectives captured in sidewalk chalk in Harmon Park today.
  • 4:55 p.m. – Highway closures: MNDoT is again closing highways tonight, and word is the closures have been moved up to 5 p.m.
  • 3:42 p.m. – West St. Paul Police update from 1:32 p.m.: Last night West St. Paul was patrolled by 70 officers from across Dakota County. There were numerous reports of gunshots, suspicious vehicles, and disturbances. Shell casings were recovered from three incidents and about a dozen arrests were made. A church on Oakdale was struck by gunfire, but no serious injuries reported anywhere in the city.
  • 12:45 p.m. – Curfew extended: Dakota County officially extended the curfew to Sunday night from 8 p.m. to Monday at 6 a.m.
  • 12:30 p.m. – Pace’s employee run over: On Friday afternoon a car without license plates attempted to vandalize Pace’s Tire and Service center. They first filled up with gas and then were confronted by an employee. The attempted vandals sped off, running over the Pace’s employee. A customer gave chase but the vandals escaped. Police arrived and an ambulance transported the injured employee to the hospital. He was released Saturday, but is very banged up.
  • 9:00 a.m. – Police update: Checked in with Police Chief Brian Sturgeon this morning—about a dozen arrests overnight, mostly for weapons violations. All arrests were people from the metro and some from West St. Paul. No burglaries or looting. Police also dealt with “lots of vehicles” without plates last night. There have been some conflicting reports about who to contact if you see something—Chief Sturgeon says to call 911 if you see something suspicious. Expect the overnight to curfew to be in place again tonight. They’ll put out an official update later today.
Treat yourself, like these folks lining up outside the boarded up but still open Michoacan last night.
  • Morning encouragement: Hey neighbors. It’s been a rough week. Today’s a good day to take care of yourself. The stress of the last few days—never mind months of an ongoing pandemic—is a lot. Give yourself and your loved ones some slack. Pull yourself away from doom scrolling on social media and do whatever you need to do. Say hi to your neighbors, curl up with a book, be in nature, find a way to help, go to church (virtual or Augustana has a drive-in service), get ice cream—whatever you need to do. For people with kids, remember that trauma can manifest itself in weird ways. Be kind to each other and stay safe, West St. Paul. And here’s a fox that showed up this morning, because why not:
  • 7:00 a.m. – West St. Paul Police update from 2:30 a.m.: “Officers continue to respond to calls throughout the city but things have been calming down. We have multiple agencies from Dakota County in town helping to keep the peace. We want to thank the majority of you who stayed home under the Dakota County curfew ordinance, have reported suspicious activity, and remained peaceful. We will continue to patrol the street overnights and provide further updates tomorrow.”

Saturday, May 30:

  • 9:39 p.m. – Lots of video and pics of police activity at Robert and Bernard.
  • 9:32 p.m. – West St. Paul Police: “West St. Paul Officers are responding to several reports of shots fired in the city. Our officers are stopping several vehicles, most with no license plates. We have several officers patrolling the city keeping you safe, and at this time there is NO immediate threat to the public” (Twitter)
  • 6:30 p.m. – West St. Paul Police: Another update to stay home, obey the curfew: “While we have not received any specific information about threats within Dakota County, all agencies have several officers ready to respond should anything occur. Stay safe WSP!”
  • 6:15 p.m. – Stay home: We’re hearing this from multiple sources and Governor Tim Walz will likely repeat it in his upcoming press conference, but stay home tonight. Curfew start at 8 p.m. Here’s more detail from a local faith leader. State Senator Matt Klein reiterates: “Neighbors, tonight will be much different from previous nights, and it will not be safe for you or your friends and allies to be on the streets. Please stay home.”
  • 6:07 p.m. – Road closures: MNDoT is closing highways starting at 7 p.m. tonight to help with the curfew, including I-94 and I-35E (does not include Highway 52 or I-494). Highways will remain open for folks leaving downtown areas.
  • 5:32 p.m. – Update from County Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord (represents West St. Paul): “Last night was relatively incident-free in the County (with the exceptions below). … We did not make the decision lightly to impose a curfew but believe it is necessary to keep our communities safe. The curfew goes into effect again at 8 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. Sunday. There continue to be risks of property damage and rioting across the Twin Cities, including in Dakota County, and staying inside tonight will help law enforcement do their job. Stay safe.”
  • 4:09 p.m. – Pad drive for Minneapolis: Women of West St. Paul are organizing a pad drive to collect feminine hygiene products for the neighborhoods hardest hit by violence. Women of West St. Paul started with a pad drive and celebrated their one-year anniversary with a pad drive last year (any plans for a pad drive this year had been interrupted by the pandemic).
  • 3:30 p.m. – Emergency declaration: The City of West St. Paul has declared a local emergency. This gives broad authority for the city manager and Emergency Management Team to quickly respond to issues as needed. Peaceful protests (before curfew goes into effect) are still allowed and encouraged (“Peaceful protests are good,” Police Chief Brian Sturgeon said.)
    • Outside police departments: The City of West St. Paul also released an update about police departments from across Dakota County working together: “You may see police officers from different agencies patrolling through your community to make sure residents are safe and businesses are protected.”
  • 3:15 p.m. – Peaceful protest: There will be another peaceful protest at the corner of Robert and Butler tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. They’re also collecting donations for Minneapolis neighborhoods and have a specific list of needs.
  • 3:00 p.m. – Peaceful gathering at Harmon: Roughly 50 people gathered in Harmon Park today for a peaceful conversation. Local resident Taurean Garrett invited people to come, encouraged social distancing and mask wearing. Garrett spoke for over an hour with response from the crowd, telling people we need to get to know our neighbors and look out for one another.
    • “Everything that’s portrayed about my culture comes from people who don’t know us.”
    • “I’m reliving my grandmother’s days. But instead of people hanging from trees, I’m seeing them laying in the streets.”
    • “Stop using ‘All Lives Matter’ as a rebuttal to silence us. If all lives matter, why is this happening?”
  • 10:43 a.m. – A local resident is organizing a peaceful gathering at Harmon Park at 1 p.m. today to encourage dialogue. He’s encouraging social distancing and masks and urging everyone to be safe. Bring sidewalk chalk and bubbles. West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon is aware of the gathering and welcomes it (according to City Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne).
  • 9:56 a.m. – This photo from yesterday by Caroline Garcia of West St. Paul is making the rounds.
  • 8:40 a.m. – Checked in directly with West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon this morning—no incidents last night in West St. Paul. Stay safe.

Friday, May 29:

  • 11:05 p.m. – Protests: There were more peaceful protests at the corner of Robert and Butler earlier today. A few dozen gathered from roughly 5 to 8 p.m.
Photo by Robyn Gulley
  • 5:52 p.m. – Dakota County is now implementing a curfew starting at 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Saturday morning and again Saturday night.
  • 5:13 p.m. – West St. Paul City Hall is barricaded with two snowplows. Businesses up and down Robert Street are boarded up: Pace’s, R&B Liquors, McDonalds, Pawn America, etc.
  • 3:48 p.m. – West St. Paul Police statement: “We want to thank the peaceful protestors for their continued respectful display of free speech. The right to peacefully protest is critical to our functioning society and a protected means of communication that we hold dear. We see you, we hear you, we appreciate your message, and we will continue to protect you if/when needed.” Also reports “at least 18 of our businesses were broken into, looted, or vandalized.”
  • 1:11 p.m. – Charges filed: Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been taken into custody and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for killing George Floyd.
  • 12:30 p.m. – Famous Footwear on Robert Street was just hit—front window smashed, police on scene. Extent of damage and/or robbery is unclear.
  • 12:23 p.m. – West St. Paul City Council has declared a closed, emergency meeting for Saturday, May 30 at 1 p.m. to “receive a security briefing from the Emergency Management Team.”
  • 12:05 p.m. – Oxendale’s is boarding up, but sign says they’ll be open until 4.
  • 11:24 a.m. – We can confirm that Nowak’s Liquor was also damaged last night, and Speedway appears to be damaged (their awning was ripped down).
  • 11:05 a.m. – Closures: Reports of Target and WalMart closing again. Old National Bank is closing until Monday.
  • 9:03 a.m. – Pictures of damage at Foot Locker.
  • As of 7:30 a.m., West St. Paul appears quiet and calm. A few businesses are still boarded up, but most are open (or opening). A few stores had clearly been damaged—Foot Locker, Metro PCS, and Boost Mobile. A few police vehicles are out, but not any kind of heavy presence.

Thursday, May 28:

  • 6:51 p.m. Update from West St. Paul Police: “Status remains steady. Officers from WSP and surrounding agencies continue to disperse crowds and protect the community. Nearly all businesses in WSP are closed and we encourage everyone to stay inside and away from retail areas.” (Facebook)
  • 4:07 p.m. Update – No active shooter: West St. Paul police say reports of an active shooter at local businesses are false. Repeat: No active shooter.
  • 3:44 p.m. Update from West St. Paul Police: “Officers are out keeping our community safe and dispersing pockets of crowds as safely as possible. For your safety, please avoid retail areas for the time being. Many establishments are already closed for the day.” (Twitter)
  • Stay home: St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is urging people to stay home: “Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement, and on preventing this from ever happening again. We can all be in that fight together.”
  • Reports of stores closed: Cub, Target, WalMart, Menards, Signal Hills, Oxendale’s, MGM Liquor, Wakota, Beirut (given police report, assume they’re all closed). Menards has stacks of lumber in front of the door as a barricade (here’s a view from inside). We’re told Dakota County Government Center on Mendota Road has closed and been evacuated. Photos of stores closed, “one gas station is using intercom to tell people pumps are turned off.”
  • Reports of vandalism at Signal Hills, specifically Foot Locker and Harbor Fright. Police presence at Signal Hills. These acts have been described as “flash looting” and don’t sound like they’re connected to active protests, at least here in West St. Paul.
    • Reports of “heavy police presence going up and down South Robert Street.”
    • Video of looters and police at Robert and Moreland. More video from inside Dunkin Donuts.
    • Reports of a crowd (“Maybe 100 people or so?”) that gathered at Signal Hills and were broken up by police and scattered in vehicles. Police seem to be focused on breaking up crowds and disrupting looting, not making arrests.
    • Reports of police gearing up heavily with riot gear and more. Here’s video of a line of police in riot gear at Signal Hills and people yelling at them.
    • A number of photos of police presence up and down Robert Street, as well as the peaceful protest at Robert and Butler.
    • It’s not West St. Paul, but the West Side is turning out to protect El Burrito Mercado.
  • Police statement coming: Statement is now live. West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon told us this morning that he’s working on a statement about George Floyd to reassure the community. We speculate the current situation might delay the release of that statement.
  • Metro Transit has suspended service, now through the weekend.
  • Active protest:
    • Video (and more and a pic) of a peaceful protest at the corner of Robert and Butler. More pictures of the protest group.
    • Reports of a small, peaceful protest on the pedestrian bridge over Highway 52 between Thompson and Kaposia parks.
  • Canceled protest: A “peaceful, silent protest” planned for West St. Paul this evening has been canceled.
  • Wednesday protest: A handful of peaceful protesters were at the corner of Robert and Butler on Wednesday night.
  • Statements from West St. Paul City Council Members on the killing of George Floyd:
    • Wendy Berry: “George Floyd matters. His life matters. Black lives matter.” (She also referred to Council Member John Justen’s comments, linked below. (Facebook)
    • Lisa Eng-Sarne: “The community is right to be angry. The community is right to be hurt. It is up to us, as city leaders, to do better and to continue to ask our police force how they are going to make sure this does not happen again. I appreciate this community that is holding everyone accountable and I hope we all consider our roles in making change and fighting for justice. I’m sickened, like you are, and look for justice for George Floyd.” (Facebook)
    • John Justen: “If Derek Chauvin starts tomorrow still free and not cuffed, processed, and jailed, we have failed. I say that knowing this will not happen. The malfeasance and lack of regard for a human life is abundantly clear in this video. It’s unquestionable, and it’s inhumane, on the basest of levels.” (read the full text on Facebook)
    • Also see the statement from Police Chief Brian Sturgeon, City Manager Ryan Schroeder, and Mayor Dave Napier. Tuesday’s City Council meeting also included a moment of silence and other comments.

(For what it’s worth, here’s my reaction to the events of this week: Oh, Minneapolis. I’d also recommend a couple books: How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and the essay compilation A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. As riots impact the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, it’s important to note the history of the Rondo neighborhood. It’s partially covered in the book Diesel Hart, which we reviewed last year.)

We do local updates like this with the help of your support.

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