41 arrested after protesters shut down I-35W bridge in Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS -- Protesters shut down a major route into downtown Minneapolis at rush hour Wednesday morning, demanding that police be demilitarized.Traffic backed up for miles as protesters blocked traffic on the Interstate 35W bridge.The state Pu...
MINNEAPOLIS -- Protesters shut down a major route into downtown Minneapolis at rush hour Wednesday morning, demanding that police be demilitarized.
Traffic backed up for miles as protesters blocked traffic on the Interstate 35W bridge.
The state Public Safety Department reported that 41 people were arrested and charges are expected.
“The State Patrol supports the right to exercise one’s First Amendment rights, but the freeway is not the place to do so,” said Col. Matt Langer, Minnesota State Patrol chief. “The closure of an interstate freeway for the purposes of a demonstration is unacceptable. They are used by everyone and are an artery for emergency vehicles. It is illegal to walk on the freeway and blocking traffic is dangerous for both pedestrians and motorists.”
State troopers, Hennepin County sheriff deputies and University of Minnesota police responded to the rush hour protest.
They towed away four cars the protesters used to block traffic.
A statement released by the peaceful protesters said they are "non-black Twins Cities residents" who support Black Lives Matter's opposition to last week's shooting death of Philando Castile at the hands of a St. Anthony police officer.
The statement said: "The coalition condemns this violence and believes this shut down reinforces our belief that comfort and business as usual must be disrupted until substantive changes occur in our city and throughout the country. This group demands the dismantling of the police department, which includes disarming, defunding, demilitarizing and disbanding police. We believe that security for all of us does not lie in use of aggression and force."
The shutdown began at 7:30 a.m. and the interstate reopened about 9:15 a.m. Dozens of law enforcement officers were on the Minneapolis bridge over the Mississippi River, which replaced a bridge that collapsed Aug. 1, 2007.
Protesters blocked Interstate 94 in St. Paul late Saturday and early Sunday, and some have been encamped since early last Thursday in front of the governor's residence in St. Paul. There were reports that other Twin Cities protests were planned for the day.
A state investigation into the Castile shooting began right after the incident the night of July 6. Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting and said that police pulled Castile's car over because of what an officer said was a broken tail light.
Investigators refuse to discuss the shooting.
Wednesday's protesters said educators and the media have a responsibility to tell people about problems the black community faces.
"Real security occurs when all of us have meaningful employment, educational opportunities that help us pursue our own life choices and the adequate healthcare needed to live fruitfully," the protesters' statement said. "Research and our experience tells us that the vast amounts spent on militarized police make most communities, excluding the very wealthy, less secure."
Protesters also said they support "green infrastructure."
They said they will not speak to the media.
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis officials called the protesters "allies."
Even after the people who shut down the interstate were arrested, other protesters remained near the interstate as law enforcement officers asked them to leave.