Protests continue against police brutality in the United States, two days after a white police officer was acquitted of killing an African-American man in Saint Paul, Minnesota, last year.
Hundreds of people gathered in New York City on Saturday to demand justice for Philando Castile who was killed by Officer Jeronimo Yanez inside his car as he tried to reach for his driver’s license during a traffic stop near St. Paul in July 2016.
The protest rally started in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan and continued to Trump Tower. The protesters condemned police brutality against African-Americans and other minorities and chanted “Black Lives Matter.”
On Friday, a jury said after five days of deliberation that Yanez had acted reasonably and was not guilty. He was also cleared of two lesser charges regarding the case.
Prosecutors argued that the cop had overreacted and was guilty of second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Yanez defended his actions, arguing that he shot Castile because he had a gun and that he only reacted after the suspect reached for his gun in his pocket despite being warned not to do so. He also accused Castile of being influenced by drugs.
Yanez was cleared of all charges relating to the death of the 32-year-old Castile on Friday.
A similar rally was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Saturday, for a second consecutive day to protest against the court verdict. Police clashed with the peaceful protesters and arrested several of them.
US Senator Al Franken of Minnesota on Saturday said Castile did not deserve to die.
“Whatever one’s opinion of the outcome of this case, we must come together and take concrete action to reckon with and dismantle the systemic racial inequalities that lead to far too many of these deaths,” Franken wrote on Facebook.
Protesters shut down highway 94 on June 16, 2017 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by AFP)
US police have been under harsh criticism over fatal shootings of and brutality against several African Americans in recent years.