Black Lives Matter protests in West St. Paul

Response to Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict in West St. Paul

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There’s a collective sigh of relief across the Twin Cities as the verdict for the Derek Chauvin trial comes in: guilty on all counts. After the announcement, small groups of peaceful protesters held signs and waved flags at the corner of Robert and Butler and in Albert Park.

Albert Park saw about 15 protesters and they were joined by West St. Paul Police Investigator Casey Kohn. Later in the evening about a dozen protesters were at Robert and Butler.

Chauvin becomes only the second police officer—and the first white officer—in Minnesota to be convicted of murder. Chauvin actually lived in West St. Paul for a few years as a child. His father, Robert Chauvin, still lives in West St. Paul.

Escalating Tensions

The verdict in the killing of George Floyd comes after weeks of escalating tensions. In West St. Paul, that included dueling Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter murals that drew international attention, as well as a city emergency over the police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.

A handful of shops along Robert Street boarded up their windows in anticipation of the verdict and potential unrest—an echo of last spring when more than a dozen stores were damaged and/or looted in West St. Paul.

On Monday, students at Heritage and Sibley joined a statewide walkout against racial injustice in memory of Wright. On Sunday, a group of about 25 protested on the corner of Robert and Butler.

Ongoing Work

With the recent police killings of Wright, Adam Toledo, and breaking news of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, today’s verdict doesn’t solve the ongoing issue of police killing people of color, but it is a ground-breaking step toward accountability. As this CNN video—featuring Henry Sibley grad Darrius Strong—of two friends recounting their stories of being pulled over shows, there’s a lot of work to do.

Here in West St. Paul that continued work is reflected in last year’s review of the use of force policy and this year’s efforts to establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, among other things.

April 21, 2021 Update: ROCC Statement

Here’s a statement from West St. Paul’s Residents of Color Collective (ROCC):

Yesterday ‘s guilty verdict has only given the Black community a short moment to breathe. This is only the first step toward accountability, there is so much that needs to be changed before we can claim victory in Justice.

Accountability must be a reoccurring practice as we move toward real equity and justice for those who have been left out of the process for so long.

ROCC

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