St. Paul City Council candidate banned from St. Paul libraries following arrest, citation

The St. Paul Public Library is banning a St. Paul City Council candidate from their locations for a month following an incident in which library staff say they feared for their safety.

According to a St. Paul police report, on July 5 officers arrested and cited David Martinez for disorderly conduct after he screamed expletives at library employees.

Martinez told Fox 9 he was at the George Latimer Central Library when he witnessed a security guard kicking a boy out, claiming he defaced library property. 

"The security guard is yelling at the young gentleman saying, ‘You need to leave, you need to leave now, you’re vandalizing library property,’" said Martinez.

Martinez says he was concerned that the boy, who is African-American, was being treated unfairly.

"He’s returning or defending himself saying, ‘Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” said Martinez. “’I’m here doing a library project’ and he shows her like five pieces of paper he has in his hands."

That’s when Martinez decided to intervene, leading to what an incident report described as “aggressive” and “violent” behavior.

"He became irate and began shouting at the security officer and using profanities," said Phoebe Larson, the St. Paul Public Library communications director. "Staff were concerned about their own safety and the safety of others."

Martinez was asked to leave. When he refused, police were called and he was cited with disorderly conduct.

“In order to defend myself I did raise my voice,” said Martinez. “The alternative was what? Hit him, smack him, trip him, take him down?" 

When asked if he thought it was appropriate to use profanities in a public space among children, Martinez said, “Yes, especially when the children in there are the ones being oppressed."

Martinez says while he didn't witness what led up to the teen being asked to leave, he believes the incident was purely based on skin color. 

“What can this be other than racism?” he said.

The library says that couldn't be further from the truth.

"It was not a racial injustice,” said Larson. “The defacing of library property is, that’s a standard - leave for the day if you behave that way."

"Here’s a real life situation,” said Martinez. “I just happen to be running for City Council. Would I have done this any other day? Absolutely."

Martinez says he would have reacted the same way had the security guard been black and the teen white. He hopes him sharing the incident starts an important discussion about racial injustice.