Minnesota state police are planning to arrest at least 200 people who participated in a demonstration in which part of Interstate Highway 94 was closed on Wednesday night.
Demonstrators participating in the demonstration, which began earlier in the evening, were confined to the freeway until 10:30 p.m. local time after law enforcement agencies allegedly blocked nearby exits. Minneapolis police officers supported the Minnesota State Patrol in its response to the protest.
Those who participated in the demonstration marched a section from 1-94 to protest the possible re-election of President Donald Trump and, as one organizer said, to work for a more progressive and inclusive future regardless of the outcome of the election.
“We’re here to say we don’t want four more years of Trump, and we’re here because we want to promote a progressive agenda and a progressive future for this city and for this country,” said Meredith Aby, a member of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, an activist group that was present at Wednesday’s demonstration. Aby told Washington Newsday that others who spoke earlier during the protest “addressed the fact that we need to stop talking about this election and start working to build the movement” because “we have a lot of work to do in this country.
Other photos and videos from the demonstration showed several activist groups involved, including advocates for racial justice, labor rights and environmental issues.
When Aby spoke to Washington Newsday about the demonstration, the activist said she was “trapped” on the highway with hundreds of other Minnesota protesters, surrounded by Minneapolis police and state police. Aby explained that law enforcement agencies “have been holding the protesters here for over an hour, and they won’t let people leave the highway. At the time, she watched as police slowly arrested protesters from the crowd as they approached her and other members of her organization. Children reportedly participated in the demonstration with their families.
We have closed in 94! #BlackLivesMatter #DumpTrump2020 pic.twitter.com/PETD05uB8T
– Anti-War Committee (@AntiwarMN) November 5, 2020
The tactic used by Minnesota troops and local police to seize protesters and then arrest them for not leaving the area is known as “kettling,” a crowd control method for which a number of law enforcement agencies nationwide responded to backlashes during the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year. Aby told Washington Newsday demonstrators on I-94 that they “actually marched to the exit” to try to get off the freeway when soldiers and Minneapolis police stopped them from continuing.
“They wouldn’t let us drive on. They wouldn’t let us go back,” she recalled. Some demonstrators tried to climb over the barriers that border the highway, Aby said, but even the police forces “wouldn’t let people go that way.
Lieutenant Gordon Shank, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol, confirmed the plan to arrest all of the protesters involved in the highway demonstration in a statement made to Washington on Wednesday night. Shank declined to comment on reports that police and Minneapolis police had blocked the highway before the arrests began, citing an “open investigation” into the matter.
The Minnesota State Patrol offered preliminary information about their response to the demonstration earlier Wednesday in a series of postings on Twitter.
“Troopers continue to detain 1-94 protesters on Riverside Avenue,” said a tweet posted on CT at 9:00 p.m. “Walking on the highway is illegal and very dangerous for pedestrians and motorists. We respect everyone’s right to speak under the First Amendment, but the interstate is not a place to do that”.