Deportation protesters block Minneapolis light rail; 18 arrested

Updated 11:39 a.m. | Posted 10:31 a.m.

Eighteen people were arrested during a Tuesday morning immigration protest at Fort Snelling that blocked light rail trains.

The demonstration, by the Poor People's Campaign of Minnesota, happened on the tracks near the Whipple Federal Building close to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Protesters blocked the tracks about 9 a.m. Metro Transit police made the arrests about 90 minutes later.

Protesters stood up for "human dignity, for legalization and justice for all," Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee member William Martinez said in a statement. "We can no longer stay silent as thousands of Minnesota families are torn apart, and as immigrants are called 'animals.'"

Detainees were taken into custody for interference with transit and trespass, said Metro Transit spokesperson Howie Padilla, adding they were warned repeatedly, then asked individually if they intended to be arrested.

Padilla said all but one walked to a nearby police transport vehicle to be taken to downtown Minneapolis to be cited and processed.

Metro Transit substituted buses for the blocked trains for more than an hour while the demonstrators blocked the rail line. Trains continued to run elsewhere along the line, including a shuttle between the two airport terminals.

The Poor People's Campaign has been staging a variety of demonstrations around the Twin Cities. The campaign is modeled on a similar effort by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. More than a dozen people from the campaign were arrested in a state representative's office at the Capitol last week.

The Blue Line protest comes just days after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill to increase penalties for protesters who block freeways or transit lines.

Bill sponsor Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, decried the light rail disruption. "With his veto, the governor aligned himself with fringe activists and encouraged this criminal activity," he said in a statement.

Correction (May 22, 2018): Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story contained comments from one of the groups protesting ICE that should have been offset by quotation marks and attributed.

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