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Thousands in Minneapolis take to I-94, protesting Trump's win

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A protest leader speaks to the crowd.
A protest leader speaks to the crowd from the back of a pickup truck Thursday night.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: 11:55 p.m. | Posted: 8:36 p.m. 

Thousands of Minnesotans hit the streets Thursday night in protest of Donald Trump's presidential win, joining a second night of similar demonstrations against the president-elect across the nation.

The Minneapolis rally started around 5:30 p.m. on the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus, later moving to Interstate 94, when protesters took to the highway and blocked traffic in both directions. 

Police provided protection as marchers moved through the streets and then kept traffic off the freeway as the group got on I-94 at Riverside Avenue.

The rallying cries were diverse, including, "Refugees are welcome here," presumably criticizing some of Trump's immigration and security policies. There were signs with messages like "Not my president" and "Love trumps hate."

As they marched through Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, protesters were warmly welcomed by neighbors, with some people on the crowd's periphery doling out high fives.

Abdi Rahman, 22, who lives nearby, smiled as he watched the demonstration.  

Residents watch from their apartments.
People watch protesters march down Franklin Avenue from the windows of their apartments.
Evan Frost | MPR News

"It actually feels nice knowing that people are standing up for us and knowing that we're welcome here," Rahman said. "So it feels really nice knowing that American people are standing up with us."

The march remained peaceful, aside from a couple vehicles that tried pushing through the crowd.

Just before 8 p.m., a truck tried getting through the crowd, and some protesters jumped on its hood. The vehicle kept moving and protesters were forced off, but nobody appeared to be seriously hurt.

Another vehicle tried pushing through the crowd just after 9 p.m. It was stopped, and the driver shot pepper spray into the air after someone hit the car's mirror. It eventually got through the mass of people.

A protester gestures at Trump head on a stick.
A protester gestures at Donald Trump head on a stick at an anti-Trump protest in Minneapolis.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The crowd hit the highway near Cedar Avenue, backing traffic up for miles and forcing detours. 

Dozens of law enforcement vehicles were on the scene, and many protesters began leaving the freeway around 9 p.m. The highway was re-opened by 9:30 p.m., Minneapolis police said.

A Minneapolis police spokesperson said there were no injuries or arrests. 

Thursday night's protest followed a smaller anti-Trump demonstration in St. Paul the night before, when a crowd grew to about 200 people as it marched from the state Capitol to the Green Line light rail tracks, temporarily halting trains.

Around the country, demonstrators took to the streets in both red and blue states to protest Trump, the Associated Press reported, including the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia. 

Hundreds block I-94 in both directions.
Hundreds of marchers block I-94 in both directions during an anti-Trump protest.
Evan Frost | MPR News

As expected, the demonstrations prompted some social media blowback from Trump supporters accusing protesters of sour grapes or worse, the AP reported.

The president-elect took to his Twitter account to respond:

MPR News reporters Matt Sepic, Evan Frost, Tim Nelson and Cody Nelson contributed to this report, as well as photojournalist Christopher Juhn.