St. Paul mayor says protesters agree not to disrupt marathon

AP News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2015 7:18 PM
St. Paul mayor says protesters agree not to disrupt marathon

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Black Lives Matter St. Paul has agreed not to disrupt the Twin Cities Marathon during the rally the group is planning for Sunday, Mayor Chis Coleman said after talking with the group's organizer on Thursday.

After meeting for more than two hours behind closed doors with Rashad Turner, the mayor said Turner assured him the group wouldn't interfere with runners and that they're committed to a peaceful rally.

"Our voices are being listened to," Turner told reporters after the meeting.

The mayor told WCCO-AM the city will provide space near the finish line of the 26.2-mile race for however many protesters choose to attend.

"Folks will be able to gather and have their voices be heard, but they will not be disrupting runners from finishing the race or interfering with people that are coming out to watch the race," Coleman said.

The St. Paul group, which is not formally affiliated with the national Black Lives Matter organization, said earlier this week that it planned on "shutting down" the marathon to raise awareness of recent incidents involving St. Paul police and people of color.

That threat raised fears that runners would be blocked from finishing the race, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The group drew widespread scorn after a protest outside the Minnesota State Fair this summer, when some marchers were recorded chanting to fry police "like bacon."

Leaders of the officially recognized Minneapolis chapter had said the threat to disrupt the marathon put the movement "in an awful light" and interfered with getting its message out.

On Wednesday, St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith warned of consequences, including arrests, for anyone who disrupts the race.

Coleman said he achieved his twin goals Thursday of furthering a dialogue about disparities between white communities and communities of color, and making sure the 11,000 racers expected to run Sunday are safe.