MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Seventeen protesters were cited and released Sunday after blocking light rail lines in Minneapolis just hours ahead of the Super Bowl.
The peaceful protest started around 2 p.m., with members of Black Lives Matter and other groups forming a blockade on the tracks near West Bank station. The protest lasted about two hours before authorities cleared the tracks. No one was hurt.
Many of the cited protesters had locked their arms together with concrete-filled pipes and chained themselves to the light rail station platform. One even locked his neck to a rail using a U-lock.
During the demonstration, other protesters, who were not locked to the platform, chanted on the tracks. They shouted a list of demands, which included the de-funding of Minnesota police departments and an end to corporate greed.
All the protesters wore shirts that said: “You can’t play with black lives!”
Officers with the Minneapolis police and fire departments were on the scene almost immediately after the protest started. After about two hours, they took away 17 protesters on buses.
A Metro Transit spokesman says the arrested protesters were cited for unlawful interference with transit.
In a press release, the protesters said the pre-Super Bowl demonstration was their way to stand with NFL athletes who knelt during the national anthem in protest to the police killings of black people across the nation.
Another reason for the demonstration was the restricted light rail service on Super Bowl Sunday, when the Blue and Green lines were marked off for Super Bowl ticket holders.
As such, the protest blocked a portion of the Green line that would have taken Super Bowl ticket holders from a security checkpoint at Stadium Village to U.S. Bank Stadium.
Meanwhile, for those who rely on public transit to get around on Sundays, replacement Metro Transit buses were in operation.
According to the protest press release, the demonstrators were from Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Alabama.
Later, a group of protesters took a knee outside of U.S. Bank Stadium as Super Bowl LII started. Others marched in downtown Minneapolis.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)