Lena Gardner of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis addresses the protests, how to move forward

Lena Gardner of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis joined MPR News host Tom Weber to discuss the protest that shut down Interstate 94 this weekend. The protest was sparked by the shooting death of Philando Castile by police last week.

Gardner was on the highway when some of the protesters turned to violence. She maintained that those people were not part of Black Lives Matter, and their actions are "an attack on the movement, and on what we're trying to build."

On why protesters took over Interstate 94

"There's a couple reasons: First, I want to say that Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has been, and always will be, committed to nonviolent protest. We've taken that position from the get-go and we have never wavered from it, and we won't now. Part of the reason that we took I-94 is our continued strategy of disrupting 'things as usual,' because people are ignoring the state of emergency that black lives are in.

"Substantive policy action has not been taken to remedy the slaughter of black people, especially at the hands of the police. We took I-94 as a continued part of that direct action strategy, we also took it because, remember, I-94 goes through the heart of what was the black community when it was built.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

"Philando came from Rondo, he was beloved in [the] Rondo community. His killing is really an example of the police terror, and represents the continued terrorization of black people under white supremacy and under this police occupation of our neighborhoods. We took 94 to continue to shed light on that, to not lose sight of that, and to not lose sight of what we're fighting, which is the continued unjustifiable killing of unarmed black men, women and children."

On whether the violence that erupted during the highway protest should be considered a failure

"I think failure is a strong word. I think that I would say that I, myself and other Black Lives Matter Minneapolis folks, were working to continuously channel people's energy into our nonviolent civil disobedience strategies, one of which is taking arrests.

"Part of the important thing to know is all of the folks who were arrested, as far as our folks on the highway, they sat down. They were arrested as part of our strategy, as part of our defiance, to continue to raise awareness that Philando was shot in cold blood in front of his family, in front of his 4-year-old girl.

"We want to continue to keep the light and the focus on the issues at hand, the problems at hand. At the end of the day, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and Black Lives Matter as a movement, has been a continual call for a de-escalation of violence, it's been a continual call for structural changes that are going to stop the killing and the violence against black people and poor people and people of color all across the nation."

For the full conversation with Lena Gardner, use the audio player above.