Several thousand anti-Trump protesters blocked Interstate 94 in Minneapolis for about an hour Thursday night, causing a major traffic backup in both directions.
From about 8 to 9 p.m., throngs of protesters who had marched onto the heavily traveled road after a rally at the University of Minnesota chanted and hoisted signs, some of them sitting on the road, others locking arms and facing lines of police officers. They eventually left the freeway via Cedar Avenue.
The protest, while often angry, was peaceful. No one was hurt, and no one was arrested.
It marked a second night of passionate rallies and marches in the Twin Cities and nationwide over the victory and views of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump.
In reaction, Trump tweeted Thursday night: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
The Twin Cities protesters, who flowed onto the interstate after marching down Franklin Avenue, chanted and hoisted signs that ran the gamut of emotions, from entreaties for love and understanding to profanity-laced condemnations of Trump. The Minnesota State Patrol, along with Minneapolis, St. Paul and university police, rushed to the area, separating blocked cars from the protesters with their squad cars and lines of officers.
Among those on the freeway was Sarah Bjorkman, who brought her 13-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. The protest was a historic moment for her children, who had wanted to be there, she said.
“They are both really aware of the election, and I gave them a choice,” she said. “We woke up [the day after the election] with general confusion and [a sense of the] unknown. My daughter woke up and was angry. My son … asked about [what will happen to] the Muslims.”
While the freeway blockage created irritation among many commuters, some who watched the march from their cars honked in support, and some bystanders expressed approval. Standing in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood with his sister and her children, Sam Bash said, “We are happy,” as marchers passed shops and restaurants of the predominantly Somali neighborhood.
“As Muslim-Americans, we are very afraid,” Bash said.
“But this makes me happy,” he said pointing to the protesters. “We love this country like anyone else.”
At the earlier rally outside the U’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, the protesters, many of them affiliated with organized groups, held signs and heard several speeches protesting the racism and sexism they say Trump represents and demanded action against climate change and to prevent the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
“We are not defeated right now,” said Robin Wonsley, an organizer with the Socialist Alternative MN group, which helped to set up the protest and spread word about it on Facebook.
At the rally, Alejandra Cruz-Blanco, an “unapologetic” undocumented immigrant from Mexico City, said of Trump’s election, “I never thought it would come to this.”
“The next day [when] I knew he was elected, I was afraid to come out on the street,” she said.
Luis Garcia, a junior at the U, said the election has instilled a deep sense of activism in many students.
“I want to do something and change [things],” he said.
Anger and assaults
Meanwhile, police investigated two assaults that occurred at different locations during Wednesday night’s protest in St. Paul, reported by the victims when they appeared separately at the Regions Hospital emergency room.
There have been no arrests in either case, said police spokesman Steve Linders.
According to Linders and police reports: The first assault occurred between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. when a 42-year-old man disembarked from the Green Line at University Avenue near Dale Street when it was shut down due to the demonstration.
He started walking home when three men and a woman confronted him near the corner of Marion Street, he said.
“They accused him of voting for Trump,” Linders said. “He told the group he didn’t vote for Trump.”
The group told the man that white voters elected Trump. He told the group he was gay and would not judge others.
Two of the men punched the victim in the face multiple times and called him a homophobic slur while their two companions laughed, Linders said.
The victim walked faster to get away from the group, which then rejoined the demonstration.
An officer working at Regions Hospital took a report from the victim when he went to the emergency room for “immense pain” to the right side of his face, which had recently been operated on, Linders said.
Also on Wednesday, a van spotted on Interstate 94 in Rogers with a profanity-laced and violent message directed at defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton prompted an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.
A motorist photographed the handwritten message on the van’s rear window: “If Hillary wins I hope to god some one shoots her in her [expletive] head.” A second sentence of three words included two more vulgarities.
“Making threats against people protected by the Secret Service is a violation of federal law,” said Louis Stephens, a Minneapolis-based special agent.
The van is owned by a 47-year-old man from Zimmerman, a town about 18 miles north of where the vehicle was seen heading west on I-94. Court records show the man has convictions in Minnesota for violating orders for protection and fifth-degree assault.
Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen said law enforcement will have to decide whether the words are “a direct threat against Hillary Clinton, or are they putting their anger out on the back of a window.”
At a minimum, Beahen said, the message could be considered disorderly conduct given that “there are a couple of different words on the back that are unacceptable.”
Staff writers Liz Sawyer, Chao Xiong and Paul Walsh contributed to this report.
Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647