Minneapolis police on Sunday apprehended Black Lives Matter protesters and supporters who blocked or chained themselves along a light rail transit line near U.S. Bank Stadium, temporarily halting trains carrying fans to the Super Bowl.
Close to 50 protesters gathered near the stadium at the West Bank stop of the Metro Transit Green Line, a main route used to travel to the Minneapolis sports venue. Protesters blocked trains in both directions at the stop. Fans on some of the blocked trains were transported to shuttle buses for travel to the stadium, according to police.
Protesters chanted “Black lives matter here” and gathered on the tracks in the frigid temperatures. At least 17 people were removed from the tracks “largely without incident” and taken away on buses, a spokesman for the metro police told HuffPost. One protester, using a lock, attached himself by the neck to a fence at the stop. There was no resistance and there were no injuries, according to police. No charges are expected to be filed against the protesters, police told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The protest occurred from about 2:15 to 4:15 p.m. local time. Trains were running again at least two hours before the start of the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, police said.
Members of Black Lives Matter and supporting organizations staged the transit demonstration to protest police brutality. They chose the day of the Super Bowl to stand with football players and other athletes who have taken a knee at games during the national anthem in protest of police violence and systemic racism, over President Donald Trump’s objections.
“Activists are using this moment to stand with athletes who have protested throughout the past two football seasons calling attention to the murder of black people by police,” organizers of Sunday’s protest said in a statement.
Demonstrators were also protesting the city of Minneapolis’ ban on city residents who don’t have a Super Bowl ticket from using public transit routes on Sunday. Protest organizers say the ban hit people of color particularly hard.
KSTP-TV reported that some protesters wore shirts reading “You shut us out, we shut you down!” to protest the transit ban, and also to protest the national crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement that it has a long history of respecting people’s First Amendment rights while balancing public safety needs. “Any response to demonstrations will be done to ensure these priorities remain consistent,” the statement said.
As the Super Bowl got underway later, hundreds of demonstrators took a knee outside the stadium.