More than 600 protesters protesting against President Donald Trump were arrested late Thursday and early Friday for blocking Interstate I-94 in Minneapolis.
Nearly 1,000 protesters gathered in downtown Minneapolis to join the protest “Don’t Let Trump Steal the Election,” as it was called by local organizers. The protesters ran down to I-94, where they then blocked the highway.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), 646 people were arrested, cited and released by State Patrol Troopers and Minneapolis police officers. Six vehicles were also towed away.
The protest, organized for Jamar by the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice, “focused on protesting against Trump’s unconstitutional theft of the election, but also recognized that much work would have to be done to secure our rights even if Biden were to take over the presidency.
In a press release, the DPS stated that the arrests were necessary to clear the interstate and that “no violence or chemicals were used and no protesters or law enforcement officials were injured during the incident.
However, the organizers have a different account of the events. The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar said that officials “moved in without any warning and refused to let them leave the highway exit.
“Despite police intimidation, the demonstrators remained calm and organized and occupied the space with speeches, chants and a marathon dance party,” the press release said. “Many broadcast the incident live and called on local politicians to question the blatant violations of the First Amendment,” the press release said.
The organizers demand that all charges against the protesters be dropped.
Grover Hogan, a demonstrator who participated in the march, told Washington Newsday that although no chemicals were applied to the protesters, many were trapped within the walls of the Minneapolis police and state police.
Meredith Aby, a member of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, an activist group present at Wednesday’s demonstration, also told Washington Newsday earlier that the protesters were surrounded by officers.
“They wouldn’t let us move forward. They wouldn’t let us go back,” said Aby.
Hogan, who was arrested, said that the officers were also disorganized in arresting the protesters, many of whom were not informed of their rights.
“We wanted to make it known that every vote should count and that voter oppression would no longer be tolerated,” Hogan said.
Trump has filed several lawsuits in several key states to stop counting votes as election results approach.
While Minnesota and its 10 electoral votes were widely called for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Trump hopes to win the close races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada.
On Wednesday night, protesters marched across the country in “Count Every Vote” demonstrations, demanding that ballots continue to be counted despite the president’s message.
Washington Newsday turned to the DPS for comment, but received no response prior to publication.