- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Nearly 70 people have been arrested as officers cleared demonstrators from the street in front of the Minnesota governor’s mansion, police in St. Paul said Wednesday.

Demonstrators have been camping outside the governor’s residence since July 7, a day after Philando Castile, a black man, was shot and killed by a suburban police officer during a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his shooting on Facebook.

St. Paul police said the most recent arrests were made at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, when 23 people were taken into custody for public nuisance and unlawful assembly. They were taken from the scene by bus. Forty-six people were arrested Tuesday.

Sgt. Michael Ernster said some were cited and released, while others who may have had outstanding warrants or obstructed arrests were taken to jail.

The scene was calm Wednesday morning. Sgt. Michael Ernster said police were on the scene and that the street remained closed. Minnesota Public Radio News reported there were no protesters in the area as of 8 a.m.

Police also cleared the street on July 18, but protesters returned Sunday. Police told them Tuesday morning that they could no longer block the street and demonstrators began to gather their belongings, police spokesman Steve Linders said.

Police began making arrests around 11 a.m. Tuesday, after one protester allegedly removed a “No Parking” sign from a curb, the Star Tribune reported.

Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said she would not tell people to stop the protest.

“They deserve to be out here,” Levy-Pounds told Minnesota Public Radio News. “We don’t need to be treated like animals and criminals when we’re simply out here demanding justice for someone who didn’t deserve to be killed.”

Gov. Mark Dayton, who is in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, has said protesters are welcome to stay outside his residence as long as they want. Dayton has suggested that race played a role in Castile’s death.

Dayton was not involved in the decision to clear the street, spokesman Sam Fettig said Tuesday.

Linders, the police spokesman, said protesters can stay, but that they must not obstruct the sidewalk, bike lanes or street.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said peaceful protests would be allowed “but we have an obligation that people are safe and follow the rules, and when that’s no longer the case we need to take action.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating Castile’s death.

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