MINNEAPOLIS — Police and Minnesota State Patrol troopers on Wednesday night, Nov. 4, arrested more than 600 peaceful protesters who had marched onto Interstate 94.
Officers lined up in riot gear on all sides of the marchers at the Riverside Avenue overpass to prevent them from exiting the freeway shortly after 8 p.m., ordering the crowd to sit down on the pavement to await arrest.
The interstate remained closed in both directions for hours as the marchers were taken into custody one by one, including several who appeared to be minors.
The demonstrators, protesting President Donald Trump’s threats to challenge the results of Tuesday’s election, as well as a raft of social injustices, had planned to make their way from the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood to the local office of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, organizers said.
Marchers from two separate rallies converged in Cedar-Riverside about 6:30 p.m. and took the interstate about an hour later, prompting law enforcement to shut it down.
State Patrol troopers and Minneapolis police officers cited and released 646 people for being a pedestrian on a freeway and public nuisance, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced Thursday morning.
Demonstrators criticized the officers for trapping them on the freeway, shouting that they would peacefully exit the roadway if allowed to.
“Walking on the freeway is illegal and very dangerous for pedestrians and motorists,” the State Patrol tweeted about 9 p.m. “We respect the right of everyone to express themselves under the First Amendment, but the freeway is not a place to do that.”
Troopers continue to arrest protestors on I-94 at Riverside Avenue. Walking on the freeway is illegal and very dangerous for pedestrians and motorists. We respect the right of everyone to express themselves under the First Amendment, but the freeway is not a place to do that.— MN State Patrol (@MnDPS_MSP) November 5, 2020
The state’s Department of Public Safety said no force or chemicals were used, and no one was injured.
I-94 was closed between Interstate 35W and Minnesota 280 when protesters entered the freeway, and the road reopened at 1:23 a.m. Thursday.
At one point as the marchers awaited arrest, a spontaneous dance party broke out on the freeway.
As the arrests continued, the crowd chanted “Let us go! Let us go!” and “I don’t see no riot here! Why are you in riot gear?”
As they were arrested, demonstrators were loaded onto buses and taken off the freeway.