ST. PAUL - A closed-door discussion between St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and leaders of the St. Paul Black Lives Matter (BLM) chapter Thursday led to a promise that runners will not be disrupted or interfered with during Sunday's Twin Cities Marathon.
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. Coleman addressed reporters first, emphasizing the fact that St. Paul is committed to erasing the gap between white residents and residents of color in education, employment, and social justice.
"Clearly, the community has expressed concern we're not where we need to be," Coleman said.
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. Instead, BLM, will demonstrate near the finish line, raising their voices about the issues that have boiled on the front burner since the death of Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer.
"The Mayor took the time to listen, he heard our concerns," Turner shared. "We will not disrupt the course."
Turner said BLM St. Paul still intends to protest at the marathon, but in a designated space without blocking any runners.
Coleman urged competitors and spectators to come out and enjoy what has become one of the Twin Cities most popular and prestigious events. He also asked anyone who attends to take a moment, and genuinely listen to the voices that are protesting inequities in our community. "It's not about a marathon, or a rally... it's about the work we need to do," Coleman said.
The mayor promised continuing dialouge with BLM on issues impacting St. Paul's communities of color. Coleman credited African american elder Nathaniel Kaliq with his involvement in Thursday's meeting.