ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — More than a dozen people were arrested after shutting down light rail service for more than an hour and a half Tuesday morning.
The group, made up of faith leaders and immigration activists, wants ICE to be abolished and was demonstrating against recent deportations.
Protesters sat on the tracks at the Fort Snelling stop, blocking trains from getting to the airport.
They were given three verbal warnings by Metro Transit police before being escorted off the tracks, arrested and given citations. The 18 protesters were arrested, booked at the Hennepin County Detention Center and charged with trespassing and interfering with transit before being released.
Activists said they picked that location to demonstrate at because it’s close to the Whipple Federal Building where they claim multiple deportations happen every day.
“ICE uses these roads, the very roads that we are sitting on right now, to bring people to immigration courts…we are making sure that doesn’t happen today,” said Rev. Daniel Romero of the First Congressional Church of Minnesota.
This protest comes just three days after Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a bill that would have increased penalties to those caught blocking freeways and lines of transit.
Rep. Nick Zerwas, the author of that bill, put out the following statement following the demonstration:
“Today’s protest is the latest example of why we need increased penalties for those who choose to put the public at risk by blocking highways, the airport, or access to transit. Governor Dayton’s veto of my bill allows for this unsafe, criminal behavior to continue with little more than a slap on the wrist for those who take part. With his veto, the governor aligned himself with fringe activists and encouraged this criminal activity. It’s frustrating to see political pandering take priority over the safety of Minnesotans.”