Police have arrested 51 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters who were part of a crowd of hundreds of demonstrators who shut down Interstate 94 near downtown Minneapolis for several hours on Monday night. The protesters were arrested after a standoff with the troopers.
The demonstrators were protesting police shooting of 24-year-old African American Jamar Clark over the weekend.
According to the AP, Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Schweigart said that late on Monday, hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters headed from a police precinct to Interstate 94 and shut down the northbound and westbound lanes of the highway from 7th Street to Broadway Avenue for two and a half hours.
The protest erupted after witness reports said that Clark was handcuffed at the time he was shot.
But the police version of events contradicts the report by the witnesses.
Police said they were responding to a report of domestic assault — a man assaulting a woman on Plymouth Avenue North — on Sunday morning and a report that the suspect interfered with paramedics at the scene of the assault. Police said Clark resisted when they tried to arrest him and during the struggle an officer shot him.
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He was taken to the hospital after the shooting and placed on life support.
A member of the family told KARE-TV that Clark passed away after being taken off life support Monday night. The father of the victim, James Hill, told AP that he was at his son’s bedside on Monday and saw that he was shot in head above the left eye.
Black Lives Matter protesters took over the I-94 at a stop near the Broadway Avenue exit at about 7 p.m. Monday evening and brought traffic to a halt. The traffic standstill that ensued reached the Lyndale Avenue exit, CBS Minnesota reports.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the protesters began blocking the traffic at about 7 p.m., and area metro police department officers were called to the scene.
At first, the officers did not interfere with the protesters but tried to divert traffic to East Lyndale Avenue North. But protesters blocked traffic in that direction also.
Then at about 8 p.m., police ordered the protesters to disperse, warning they would be arrested if they refused to comply.
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KARE-TV reports that the Minnesota State Patrol said they began arresting the protesters at about 9 p.m. after they refused to heed four separate warnings to disperse.
Police said that 43 adults and eight juveniles were arrested and will be charged with “pedestrian on freeway” and “unlawful assembly.” Both offenses are misdemeanors.
Schweigart said the arrested protesters cooperated and that officers did not have to use force.
Officers secured the area, and traffic had resumed by 10 p.m. after protesters dispersed.
According to CBS Minnesota, the protesters also demonstrated outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th precinct on Morgan Avenue Sunday night. Some of the protesters were seen camping out in eight tents near the spot where Clark was shot. Michael McDowell, an organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement, said protesters will continue to occupy the spot until police release video footage of the shooting incident and the identities of officers involved.
However, the number of demonstrators reportedly dwindled over Monday night due to rain and windy conditions.
— Ethan Nuss (@EthanNuss) November 17, 2015
Minneapolis Police Chief Jannee Harteau reportedly said the two officers involved in the shooting were not wearing body cameras. But she declined to say whether there was a camera in the officers’ car that might have recorded the incident.
Meanwhile, Mayor Betsy Hodges has requested — in addition to the ongoing state investigation — for a federal civil rights investigation, AP reports.
Gov. Mark Dayton has also issued a statement saying that he supports the call for a federal civil rights investigation.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]