46 protesters charged with 3rd degree riot in I-94 shutdown

St. Paul police spray a protester.
St. Paul officers spray a protester who got too close to the police line during the I-94 shutdown on Saturday.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

All 46 adults arrested in the protest on Interstate 94 in St. Paul face third-degree riot charges, officials said Monday.

Ramsey County District Court has set bail at $1,500. Those who don't post bail Monday will stay in the Ramsey County jail through the night and court appearances are expected to start as soon as Tuesday morning, St. Paul city attorney Samuel Clark said in an emailed statement.

"The City Attorney's Office reviewed the evidence from the event, including police reports, photos and video," the press release said. "In each case, they determined there is sufficient evidence to charge individuals."

Maximum sentences for third-degree riot in Minnesota are one year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both.

On Saturday, protesters shut down both sides of the interstate from about 8 p.m. into early morning the next day.

Protesters run around the police cars onto I-94.
Protesters run around the police cars blocking the freeway entrance on to I-94 where they stopped traffic and shut down the freeway on Saturday.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

They were rallying against the police shooting of Philando Castile, an African-American man who was fatally shot by a police officer Wednesday night at a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, spurring mass protest around the country.

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St. Paul police said people broke from the otherwise-peaceful protest and threw bottles, fireworks, rocks and construction rebar at officers, making for a tense atmosphere in which police responded by using smoke, blast balls and marking rounds.

"There's no question" it was a riot, Mayor Chris Coleman told MPR News Monday morning before charges were filed.

"Up to the point where people were peaceful, up to the point where they were sitting on the freeway, they may have been unlawfully assembling but they weren't rioting," he said. "The minute that brick was thrown, the minute fireworks were thrown towards the police officers, that's riot."

Coleman said the city wanted to make it clear "you can't riot in the city of St. Paul. You can't riot and have the kind of conversations this country needs about policing and communities of color."

Protest leaders from Black Lives Matter have blamed the violence on outsiders who don't represent the group.

Black Lives Matter is also asking for donations to help with bail and legal fees.

One juvenile was arrested, in addition to the 46 adults. A charging decision will be made by the juvenile division of the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, the city attorney said.