A St. Paul City Council candidate has been banned from the city's public libraries for a month after he was arrested at George Latimer Central Library last week.
David Martinez, 38, was cited for disorderly conduct and trespassing July 5 after he screamed obscenities at library staff members, according to a police report. Martinez, who detailed the incident in a post on his campaign website, said he was standing up for a young black man who was doing research at the library and was being asked to leave.
Martinez's account of the incident differs from the library incident report filed July 6, which describes him exhibiting aggressive behavior and threatening violence.
According to the library incident report, Martinez entered the library as a security guard was escorting the young man out of the building. Martinez confronted the security guard and said "she had no right" to kick the man out and accused her of racism. The guard told Martinez that an incident had occurred that did not involve him, and that the young man needed to leave the library.
Then Martinez began to shout — first at the security guard, and then at other staff members who approached. He shouted, "If you touch me, I'll take you out!" at a staff member, the report said. He "clapped his hands violently numerous times" in front of their face. He yelled profanities so loudly that his voice could be heard in other parts of the library, and leaned in so close as he shouted that his spit landed on a staff member's neck, the report said.
At the request of library staff, St. Paul police arrested Martinez, according to the police report. Martinez refused to identify himself until he was in custody, the library and police reports said.
In an interview Tuesday, Martinez said he believes he was arrested because he is running for the City Council and other candidates, as well as the larger political establishment in St. Paul, see him as a threat. He acknowledged that violating the library's code of conduct may have played a role in his arrest.
"Do I need to take ownership of my behavior? Absolutely," Martinez said. "But part of my platform, a big part of it, is equality and justice. And I'm seeing a lot of injustice and if I am going to be true and authentic to my platform, then I have to stand up and I have to say something."
According to Martinez, he was visiting the library over his lunch hour to check out books about the Fourth Ward, where he's running for an open City Council seat. In the library, he came across a security guard who was asking a young man to leave because he had been seen vandalizing library signage and equipment. The man said that he was at the library to do research and hadn't vandalized anything, Martinez said.
Martinez said he told the guard that neither he nor the young man would be leaving the library.
"What is wrong with you people?!" Martinez recalled himself saying. "No wonder our African American students are not achieving academically — we're [expletive] kicking them out of the public libraries."
Election Day is Aug. 14. Martinez is running against Mitra Jalali Nelson and Shirley Erstad in the special election.
Emma Nelson • 612-673-4509