Thousands in Minnesota protest the Philando Castile shooting verdict

Thousands of people have been taking part in a demonstration in St. Paul, Minnesosta, after a police officer was found not guilty of fatally shooting of a black motorist during a traffic stop a year ago.

Demonstrators gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol demanding justice for Castile and stronger accountability measures for police.

Yanez, 29, shot Castile, 32, multiple times on July 6, 2016, seconds after the black motorist alerted the officer that he was carrying a gun, during the traffic stop. Castile had a permit for the weapon.

Yanez, who is Latino, was charged with second-degree manslaughter.

The jury opted for acquittal, clearing Yanez of manslaughter Friday after five days of deliberation that almost ended in deadlock.

Shorting after the verdict, the City of St. Anthony announced that Yanez "will not return to active duty" despite his acquittal.

Friday's march remained largely peaceful.

The Minnesota state police said officers began arresting the protesters past midnight, after issuing three warnings for them to get off of a major highway in the city. Marchers walk along Interstate 94 on Friday night, June 16, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn., after a vigil at the state Capital.

Police ordered the protesters to disperse, and the crowd eventually moved off I-94 mainlines and onto an entrance ramp. Eighteen people, including two journalists, were arrested. They were booked at Ramsey County Jail, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

The video begins with the girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, in the passenger seat as Castile, covered in blood, sits in the driver's seat and a patrolman points his gun into the vehicle.

The shooting gained national attention after the graphic video of the bloodied Castile - taken by his girlfriend Goldie Taylor inside the auto moments after he was shot - was posted on YouTube. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. Yanez said Castile was reaching for the gun and didn't listen to his instructions to stop. The officer's defense team also argued Castile was high on marijuana, which affected his actions. Castile knew the drill, and seemed to cooperate with Officer Yanez.

Supporters of Philando Castile held a portrait of Castile as they marched along University Avenue in Minnesota. Friday's acquittal prompted swearing from Castile's family members.

Allysza Castile, Philando's younger sister, was more resigned while speaking to reporters. Another admitted, "I never got to meet him". It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Officer Yanez is a policeman.

Organizers of Friday's protest said that the verdict "shows how the system is rigged against justice for victims of police terror". Saint Paul Police escorted the crowd they estimated to be 2,000 people. The school district said grief counselors will be available to speak to students and staff.

"I don't doubt that Officer Yanez is a decent person, but he made a disgusting mistake from our perspective, and that's what this case was about", Choi said.

Meanwhile, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman described Castile as a "son of Saint Paul".

"This verdict tells African Americans across the country that they can be killed by police officers with impunity, even when they are following the law, and that it is reasonable for any person interacting with an African American in any way to fear for his or her life, " Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement.

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