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Activists hold more peaceful second rally over US shooting verdict

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People line up to look on as protestors and police face each other on highway 94 on June 16, 2017 in St Paul, Minnesota

People line up to look on as protestors and police face each other on highway 94 on June 16, 2017 in St Paul, Minnesota (AFP Photo/Stephen Maturen)

Washington (AFP) - Minnesota activists held a second rally against police violence Saturday following 18 arrests during a night of protests after a policeman was acquitted over the shooting of a black motorist.

Angry protestors had blocked a major highway in the state capital of St. Paul early Saturday after Friday's acquittal of Officer Jeronimo Yanez, 29, of all charges he faced in the shooting death of 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop.

Demonstrators held a smaller, more reflective rally and march Saturday evening "against injustice and to raise awareness that we will not stand for laws and policies that allow police to kill with impunity," organizers wrote on the event's Facebook page.

About 200 people turned out for that demonstration in Minneapolis -- the state's largest city that borders St. Paul -- according to the Star Tribune newspaper.

Castile's death was part of a series of high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police. Americans were stunned to see the video, livestreamed on Facebook, of his panicked girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, as blood spread on Castile's shirt.

Yanez fired repeatedly at Castile, testifying later he though the man was reaching for a gun. Reynolds said he was reaching for his wallet.

The verdict had sparked outrage among many in the St. Paul area. An estimated 1,500 people marched through the city, then poured onto interstate highway I-94, shutting it down.

When some marchers ignored repeated police orders to disperse, state and local officers arrested 18 of them shortly after midnight, a state police spokesman said.

The Star Tribune said those arrested included two reporters for other Minnesota newspapers who were covering the march.

A police statement said the charges against the 18 included "being a pedestrian on the freeway."