Demonstrators will be given a space near the finish line where they can protest peacefully, according to reports, including from Nicole Norfleet with the Star Tribune. “This is about the work this country and this community needs to do to assure that all are treated fairly and equally under the law”, said Mayor Chris Coleman.
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.
Coleman’s sentiment was echoed by Twin Cities registrants interviewed by Runner’s World when Black Lives Matter still planned to disrupt the race.
Coleman and St. Paul BLM leader Rashad Turner emerged from the Mayor’s office after about two and a half hours of intense dialogue on the treatment of residents of color in the city by St. Paul’s Police force, and other issues of equity.
That being said, the Mayor announced that Turner and the St. Paul Black Lives Matter chapter have agreed to refrain from interfering with runners trying to complete the course, as had previously been threatened.
“Our voices are being listened to, ” Turner told reporters after the meeting. The mayor told WCCO Radio that Turner assured him they wouldn’t interfere with runners and that they’re committed to a peaceful rally.
Coleman credited African american elder Nathaniel Kaliq with his involvement in Thursday’s meeting.
“Not once … has this event been disrupted by unlawful behavior, and we’re not going to let that occur now”, he said.
Later Wednesday, Smith said at news conference at police headquarters that St. Paul police had provided security for the marathon for 33 years.
“My message to runners and spectators is to come out and enjoy the day”, he said.