Black Lives Matter St. Paul has made a little less ruckus than its Minneapolis neighbor group lately, but is getting back in action. Later this month, organizers with the racial justice movement will "shut down" the Red Bull Crashed Ice outdoor speed-skating competition in St. Paul.
They might not. But the protest, and the attempt to prevent a popular annual event, will only be averted if a set of ambitious demands are met in a matter of weeks.
Christening the protest #BLACKICE, Black Lives Matter St. Paul posted its warning Monday evening, saying it would hold a nonviolent demonstration at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, February 27, about an hour before the final races are set to begin.
The first priority for BLM St. Paul should come as no surprise. Out of seven demands made, the first four deal directly with one St. Paul cop. They want the immediate firing of Sgt. Jeff Rothecker, a 22-year-veteran of the St. Paul Police Department, who was recently exposed as the man behind Facebook posts encouraging people to run over Black Lives Matter protesters if their demonstrations block the road.
But due process is taking a little too long for Black Lives Matter, which wants Rothecker expelled from the St. Paul force immediately and stripped of his pension. "Do NOT accept his resignation," the announcement says.
This demand sounds at least like a plausible outcome. Rothecker's been on leave since that news went public, and the mayor and chief of police have strongly condemned his social media behavior. Even the police union came up well short of defending him.
The second Black Lives Matter bullet point is a much more extensive request: the re-investigation of every case Rothecker was involved in that led to an arrest. BLM also wants the elimination of "progressive discipline" for city cops, saying a different system of self-policing would have seen Rothecker kicked off the force already. (Rothecker had seven complaints against him upheld over the years, though most were fairly minor compared to his current predicament.)
Another demand calls for Rothecker to be charged with "a minimum of Disorderly Conduct and Terroristic Threats." For good measure, Black Lives Matter throws in a dig at Gov. Mark Dayton.
"Governor Dayton," reads the statement, "you are a white supremacist, you have no problem calling us domestic terrorists and saying we are inappropriate, but have yet to open your big mouth against a fellow white supremacist who was inappropriate and has admitted to criminal offenses."
It's an interesting tack to take, as BLM follows these strong words with direct appeals for Dayton to involve minorities in the state's peace officer standards and training (POST) board, and to issue an executive order ending the use of grand juries for cases of police officers accused of assault or murder on the job.
Lastly, BLM revisits the case of Marcus Golden, a black St. Paul man who was shot and killed in January 2015, after police say he attempted to ram them with his SUV. Officers were investigated but cleared by a grand jury for that shooting; Black Lives Matter wants the incident to be reviewed by the federal Department of Justice.
It's a long list, with disparate points made and a number of powerful figures who'd have to snap into action to meet the demands — that is, if they're inclined to do so in the first place.
In the most likely scenario, the Crashed Ice event will come to town as scheduled, and Black Lives Matter protesters will go to St. Paul with every intention of stopping it. Skaters will not be the only things that collide.
- Jeff Rothecker: The unflattering history of the cop who'd run over black people
- St. Paul cop accused of encouraging drivers to run over BLM protesters
- Black Lives Matter St. Paul leader threatened by "armed white supremacist"
- Black Lives Matter St. Paul wants Como Park teacher fired for Facebook posts
- Illegal protesters should pay for police response, charges GOP lawmaker