St. Paul vows arrests if Twin Cities Marathon disrupted

Elite runners
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman warned Wednesday that attempts by Black Lives Matter to "shut down" this weekend's Twin Cities Marathon would be dangerous to runners, spectators and protesters. Here, Tyler Pennel, center, led a pack of runners during the 2014 event in Minneapolis.
Andy Clayton-King | AP 2014

Updated 3:15 p.m. | Posted 12:07 p.m.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief Tom Smith are warning Black Lives Matter that any attempt by the group to disrupt Sunday's Twin Cities Marathon would be dangerous and won't be tolerated.

Coleman, who plans to meet Thursday morning with Black Lives Matter leader Rashad Turner, said "all options" are on the table to maintain order Sunday.

Hours after the mayor's statement, Smith and St. Paul City Attorney Samuel Clark reinforced Coleman's vow to keep the event from being disturbed.

"We will not tolerate any actions that compromise the marathon," Smith told reporters.

Smith said the department is committed to protecting protesters' First Amendment rights as long as their behavior doesn't threaten public safety.

Marathon runners and spectators should enjoy the day without worrying about their safety, he added.

"Make sure your actions do not interfere with the safety of others, not the runners, not the spectators, not the men and women who will be working the event," Smith warned would-be protesters. "Otherwise there will be consequences, including arrest."

The St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter is planning to protest near the finish line of Sunday's marathon.

An attempt to shut down the marathon would be dangerous to runners, spectators and protesters, Coleman said.

Recent protests organized by the St. Paul branch of Black Lives Matter have disrupted traffic near the Minnesota State Fair and temporarily shut down Metro Transit's Green Line. There were no serious injuries or arrests.

Coleman, though, told MPR News that a protest at the marathon has the potential to be more disruptive. At the State Fair and Green Line protests, he said, the public had other options around the disruptions.

"But here you're really talking about getting to a point where you're directly interfering with someone's ability to accomplish their goal," he added. "And that's where your right to free speech ends."

City officials are reviewing incidents of alleged police misconduct in the city, Coleman said.

The St. Paul chapter of the group has questioned the circumstances surrounding a fatal police shooting last week of 30-year-old Philip Quinn, as well as the alleged beating of an autistic teen earlier in the month.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday said he hopes the Black Lives Matter protest does not stop any runners from finishing the race.

Disrupting runners, he argued, has "no connection to the grievances that they want to put forward."

MPR News reporters Tim Nelson and Tom Scheck contributed to this report.

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