Activists Sound Alarm over Organization of Philando Castile Protest
MINNEAPOLIS (NSP) – The General Defense Committee of the Twin Cities IWW put out a statement disavowing a protest and encouraged people to both be skeptical of the organizers of that protest and perhaps not attend.
The protest in question is organized by a self-described online community called “Don’t Shoot” which called for a rally outside of the St. Anthony Police Department to demand justice for Philando Castile. ‘Don’t Shoot’ said over Facebook, “We’re going to demand prosecution for the killer cop and his accomplices.”
From the IWW statement –
“We strongly urge you not to attend this Sunday’s event at 2pm at the Saint Anthony Police Department. If you or anyone you know wants to continue supporting the movement for Justice for Philando Castile, we recommend that you instead support the ongoing occupation the outside of Governor Dayton’s mansion.”
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis denied any support for the event when asked on Twitter.
@jenhanlonash we are NOT in support of the don’t shot event
we will be releasing a statement shortly
— Black Lives MPLS (@BlackLivesMpls) July 9, 2016
Suspicions arouse due to the sudden announcement from a group without much prior publicity and lack of outreach to other protest groups in the Twin Cities.
Through a direct message on Twitter, ‘Don’t Shoot’ told IWW members that they had reached out to local protest groups. When the IWW inquired with the groups mentioned, they received only denials about organizing alongside ‘Don’t Shoot’.
The online community, who links to a broken website and lists false post addresses, put out a pretty hefty disclaimer about their Minnesota protest, “We don’t have any local representatives in the Twin Cities.”
Following that statement came a torrent of concerned comments from Facebook users active in the activism scene in Minnesota.
As of 4:00 P.M. on July 9th, the protest event page has over 10,000 marked either ‘interested’ or ‘going’.
We spoke with Sam Wagner of the IWW who had this to say –
“It sets a dangerous precedent if there are going to be outside groups throwing up event pages in the wake of terrible tragedies and encouraging people to show up. If an event doesn’t have any organization and then thousands of people show up at a police station, it could create a dangerous situation… especially after what happened in Dallas.”
Concern from activists about this method (or lack thereof) for organizing a mass demonstration is entirely warranted given the tense nature of police — community and police — protester relations currently. Wagner explained that putting out what is effectively a cattle call for people to show up without planning for police liaisons, march marshals, speakers and other logistics can have negative results. He used the phrase “honey-pot” to describe one such concern in which an actor (perhaps the authorities) opposed to the viewpoint of the “protest” would place those who showed up under surveillance, or worse.
‘Don’t Shoot’ has also called for protests in Baton Rouge today and has posted similar events to protest other high profile police shootings across the United States.
No one from ‘Don’t Shoot’ could be reached for comment.
According to a press release sent shortly after midnight, local protest groups have been handed the reigns and have formed an ad-hoc committee to make up for the lack of organizing by ‘Don’t Shoot’.
[Updated] 12:40 A.M. on July 10th to include information about a resolution to the misunderstanding between ‘Don’t Shoot’ and local protest groups.