Activists block trains, protest Minneapolis police shooting
By YOUSSEF RDDAD
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Activists and family members of a black man who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police marched through downtown Tuesday, blocking trains and intersections during the evening rush hour as they chanted some of Thurman Blevins’ last words: “Please don’t shoot me! Leave me alone!”
Roughly 300 demonstrators called for the officers involved to be fired and arrested, though a prosecutor announced a day earlier that he was declining to file charges. After a rally at the Hennepin County Government Center, the protesters marched along the light rail tracks, shutting down service for nearly an hour as workers were leaving downtown and Minnesota Twins fans were trying to get to a game.
The group then marched to Target Field as the baseball game was underway, then began to disperse. Metro Transit tweeted at 8:10 p.m. that the demonstration was over and it requested patience as buses and trains got back on schedule.
Police said there were no arrests.
Blevins was shot June 23 by Minneapolis officers after they chased him into an alley in north Minneapolis. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Monday the actions of Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt were justified because Blevins, 31, was armed, disregarded police commands and turned toward police with a loaded gun.
Blevins’ family members said he wasn’t a danger while he was running away. His sister, Darlynn Blevins, said her brother “ran for his life” because he was scared and the officer “emptied his clip into my brother’s back.”
Sydnee Brown, Blevins’ cousin, said Thurman Blevins “was not an evil man walking the earth.”
Demonstrators shouted that Freeman “needs to go.” They carried signs that called for justice, and chanted “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” There was a brief confrontation with a woman who was upset that her train was delayed, but otherwise the protest was peaceful.
The officers were responding to a 911 call of a man firing a gun into the air. Body camera video released Sunday shows Schmidt and Kelly pulling their cruiser up and Blevins seated on a curb near a woman with a child in a stroller. As the officers pull up, one says, “He’s got a gun!” and they jump from the squad car. The officers chase Blevins and shout at him to put his hands up or they will shoot. Blevins says, “Please don’t shoot” and “Leave me alone.”
An enhanced version of the videos has a red circle drawn around what appears to be a gun in Blevins’ right hand. The video shows it come into view as he looks over his left shoulder at the officers, before he is shot.