Police Remove Activists Blocking Way to US Bank Stadium

February 04, 2018 11:18 PM

Police in Minneapolis have removed protesters who locked themselves across a light-rail line near U.S. Bank Stadium, temporarily halting trains carrying fans to the game.

Activists protesting police brutality chained themselves along the Green Line carrying ticketholders to the Super Bowl on Sunday, stopping trains in both directions.

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In a release Sunday afternoon, organizers said Black Lives Matter, the Movement for Black Lives and other groups shut down light rail at "several critical transit lines in Minneapolis" starting about 2:30 p.m. It was unclear how many lines were affected. 

"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 and to the City of Minneapolis' banning city residents from using public transit without a Super Bowl ticket," which organizers said primarily affected people of color, according to the release. 

About 30 activists walked onto the city's Green Line at the West Bank stop shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, stopping trains in both directions. By 4:15 p.m., about 17 arrests had been made, according to Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington. Trains were running as normal by late afternoon.

The line runs from downtown St. Paul to the heart of Minneapolis, and is a main way some fans are getting to the game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

Chinyere Tutashinda, a spokeswoman for the activists, says some chained themselves along the track.

Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said the agency has a plan in place for handling disruptions, and that such a plan was going into motion mid-afternoon Sunday.

"We're more than two hours from the game at this time, and we are confident that all ticketholders will get to the game in time," Padilla said. 

The demonstrators wore T-shirts that say "You shut us out, we shut you down!" to protest the light rail rider ban and to stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrant workers who face potential deportations, the release says.

Officers began arresting protesters on the university's West Bank shortly before 4 p.m., according to a KSTP reporter at the scene. By 4:10, reporter Kirsten Swanson reports, 15 people had been escorted from the scene and loaded onto a Metro Transit bus.

Leaders call the Super Bowl a "national security crisis," and say that the league and the city have failed to provide resources to vulnerable communities.

Black Lives Matter and several other groups planned two separate events and a march Sunday afternoon. About 300 people had gathered at a park a couple of miles south of U.S. Bank Stadium, and planned a march that would have them arrive at the stadium near 5 p.m.

The city had not immediately responded to a request for comment.

Editor's note: Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington said his first report of 25 arrests was incorrect. He revised the number to 17 shortly before 4:30 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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