Black Lives Matter-related protest shuts down Minneapolis highway

MINNEAPOLIS, July 13 (UPI) — Sections of a Minnesota interstate highway were shut down during morning rush hour as protesters gathered in the in the wake of the death of Philando Castile.

Police arrested 41 protestors on I-35W near downtown Minneapolis for misdemeanor offenses like public nuisance and unlawful assembly and traffic flow was restored about 90 minutes later.

The Black Lives Matter-related coalition of people called the Coalition to Wake Your Ass Up released a statement denouncing Castile’s killing and said “this shutdown 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 called for police departments to be re-tooled.

“We believe that security for all of us does not lie in use of aggression and force,” the statement read.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis leader Oluchi Omeoga gave his support to the protest.

“These white people understand that we’re going through something, that black people are going through something in this country, and they want to fight to make a difference,” he said. “I think that’s beautiful. This is not just St. Paul … this is a systematic issue.”

Minnesota State Patrol Chief Col. Matt Langer said the problem was not the protest, but the location.

“The State Patrol supports the right to exercise one’s First Amendment rights, but the freeway is not the place to do so,” Langer said. “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.”

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