Protest Starts Peaceful, Fights Break Out
ST. CLOUD -- For the third night in a row, a large group of people gathered in south St. Cloud to protest on Tuesday night. However, this time it stayed peaceful for much of the evening.
At about 10:00 p.m. Pastor James Alberts and others started speaking to the crowd at the corner of 9th Avenue and University Drive about keeping the night under control.
At about 1:00 a.m. several fights broke out among the participants which brought the police in. The crowd has been lighting off fireworks and throwing them onto University Drive.
At one point someone started a dumpster on fire on 10th Avenue South which the fire department came in and quickly extinguished.
One of the speakers prior to the fighting was 22-year-old Emmanuel Okwera from St. Cloud. He says he came out to peacefully protest all three nights.
Everyone is really angry and tensions are really high on both sides. It's really hard to get both sides to hear when a lot of emotions are flying back and forth. That's why I came out today while everyone is still calm.
He says a lot of the young kids in the community need guidance and he wanted to be a voice of reason for them.
The bad apples end up ruining everything, which is why I said we all need to take charge together, if anyone sees anything we've just got to stop them.
By midnight a few hundred people had joined the crowd.
At one point many young people in the group moved from an empty lot over to the gas station, but they were quickly followed by Pastor Alberts and other adults in the group, which brought them back to the vacant lot. The young people were encouraged to speak up and say what they had to say.
There was no sign of a police presence along 9th Avenue or University Drive during the evening prior to the fights. Once the fighting started there were a lot of police including in what appeared to be a staging area in the Hallenbeck Hall parking lot at St. Cloud State University.
Meanwhile, the St. Cloud Police Station was guarded and blockades were put up around the building as a precaution.
Violence erupted early Monday morning and again late Monday night into Tuesday morning after an incident involving the arrest of a man who allegedly shot a police officer in the hand. The two previous nights included damage to property which led to police dispensing tear gas and making several arrests.