41 arrested following I-35W protest

Updated: July 13, 2016 - 11:22 am

The State Patrol has arrested 41 protesters who blocked traffic on I-35W south near downtown Minneapolis Wednesday morning.

Troopers also impounded four vehicles the protesters used to block the interstate.

The freeway reopened around 9:15 a.m. after being shut down for about 90 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Mn/DOT
Photo courtesy of Mn/DOT

“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.”

A press release about the protest said the demonstration was organized by the Coalition to Wake Your Ass Up, a group of non-black allies of the Black Lives Matter movement: “Last Wednesday evening, Philando Castile was shot 6 times. 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.”

The group also advocates the dismantling of the police department.

“We believe that security for all of us does not lie in use of aggression and force,” the group wrote in the press release. “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.”

Another major protest shut down traffic on I-94 in St. Paul on Saturday night. Forty-six people face third-degree riot charges in connection with that event. Police say 21 officers were injured. Black Lives Matter leaders have condemned the actions of people who directed violence at the police.