Law enforcement arrested more than 600 people for blocking Interstate 94 while participating in a protest in Minneapolis late Wednesday and early Thursday.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) said that the arrests by State Patrol troopers and city police were necessary to clear the interstate of marchers.
“No force or chemicals were used, and no protesters or law enforcement officers were injured during the incident,” read a DPS statement issued Thursday.
Marchers gathered early Wednesday evening for a protest by led by multiple local organizations dubbed the “Don’t Let Trump Steal the Election.” The march went from downtown streets to I-94, where they closed the freeway from Interstate 35W east to Hwy. 280. The interstate was cleared and reopened at 1:23 a.m. Thursday, the DPS said.
There were 646 people cited and arrested in all, then released, the state agency said. Six vehicles were towed.
“State law makes it illegal for pedestrians, bicyclists or other nonmotorized traffic to be on a freeway. In addition, walking on the freeway is very dangerous for pedestrians and drivers, especially after dark,” the DPS statement continued.
The march was organized by the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, which said had nearly 1,000 participants.
Organizers painted a far more critical picture of law enforcement’s response to the protest.
Troopers and police officers “moved in, without any warning, and refused to let them leave the freeway exit,” the coalition said in a statement. “Some were detained and are currently unaccounted for.”
Specifically, the statement said that someone named Amine McCaskill has yet to be located and “was last seen being led away by seven cops.”
DPS spokesman Bruce Gordon responded that everyone arrested was released from custody “once everyone could be cited.”
The coalition praised the marchers for staying “calm and organized, holding the space with speeches, chants, and a marathon dance party. … Meanwhile, the MN political establishment allowed police to detain protesters trapped on the highway for more than five hours after the scheduled end of the protest.”
The march’s theme was to protest President Donald Trump’s ongoing legal challenges to vote counting in a few states where he’s locked in a tight battle with Democrat Joe Biden, as well as to address “the triple pandemic of racism, COVID-19, and recession.”
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