ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Black Lives Matter St. Paul activist Rashad Turner says the #BlackIce protest at the site of Red Bull Crashed Ice has been canceled. In a response, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he is “grateful” but said the city is still committed to racial equity efforts.
“After several hours of dialogue with Mayor Coleman, and other city officials, and community leaders, we believe that our demands have been sincerely addressed by Mayor Coleman, Representative John Lesch, and other leaders throughout the City of St. Paul,” Turner said in a statement. “Therefore, we will keep our word and cancel the #BlackIce demonstration that was scheduled for Saturday.” Read the group’s full statement at http://on.fb.me/1QLaWi0
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman statement
“I have said many times that, while I fully respect the right of all to exercise freedom of speech, there are times when we must act to protect public safety. The fact is a protest at Crashed Ice would have created a volatile situation for not only the 100,000 plus spectators, but the protestors themselves. Therefore, I am grateful that there will be no protest of Crashed Ice on Saturday by Black Lives Matter.
“But I also believe the decision to call off the protest is based in the work that we as a city have already undertaken to address the concerns raised by BLM. We are currently conducting a review of the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Committee. Chief Smith recently announced that investigations of officer involved shootings will be handled by outside agencies. The racial equity work in Saint Paul is becoming a national model and includes equity plans in each and every department in the city.
“Still, there is much work to be done. That is why I have worked with State Representative John Lesch on a legislative package to continue the work of building trust and confidence in police/community relations. The package will have three components.
“First, the recent incident involving outrageous comments by a Saint Paul police officer exposed what I consider a flaw in the data privacy laws in the State of Minnesota. By law, the city is severely restricted in what can be said regarding disciplinary actions following misconduct by an officer. That, unfortunately, leads to a perception that no action has been taken. I believe it is important for a city to have the ability to inform the public when an officer has been disciplined even in those situations where the officer is appealing the discipline. I believe we can strike a proper balance between an employee’s right to privacy with the public’s right to know.
“Second, many questions have been raised about the fairness and integrity of the grand jury process, particularly when it involves the use of deadly force by an officer. While I do not presuppose that the process is unfair, I believe it is appropriate to undertake a review of the system and see how it can be more transparent and trusted. Therefore, a state-wide audit of the grand jury process should be conducted.
“Third, too often, our officers are encountering people suffering from severe mental illness. These are very dangerous situations that can result in a tragic loss of life. The Saint Paul Police Department has instituted training for officers to deal with people with mental health issues. This training should be expanded to every department in the state. The legislation would provide resources to expand this training.
“I continue to believe that the great strength of Saint Paul lies in the ability of all to work together to solve the challenges we face. Through conversation and cooperation, we can address concerns raised by BLM. Saint Paul is a city where all voices are heard and all people are valued."