11 Occupy MN Activists Arrested for Shutting Down Bridge

Click on Photo to View Video of 10th Ave Bridge Arrests

Video courtesy of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy

Eleven activists were arrested in Minneapolis yesterday for creating a human roadblock on the 10th Ave. Bridge during the evening rush hour to protest rising economic and labor inequality. Rev. Paul Slack, pastor of New Creation Church was among them.

Meanwhile, a crowd of 400-500 marchers, including clergy, unemployed workers and local residents marched to “Bridge the Jobs Gap” and demand government action to fix crumbling infrastructure, create good jobs and address Minnesota’s record racial disparity in employment. According to a press release from Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, “the marchers emphasized the need for Wall Street and the wealthy to pay their fair share to fund job creation and avoid devastating budget cuts.”

“It is time for us as faith and community leaders to take a courageous stand for racial justice and bridge the jobs gap between whites and African Americans,” said Rev. Slack, who also chairs the Clergy and Religious Leaders Group of ISAIAH, a major network of faith-based organizations. “Everyone deserves a path that leads out of poverty and into opportunity. Faith calls us to correct bad policies that favors the few and is destroying our democracy and co-create new policies that benefit all people.”

The 11 activists arrested were associated with the Minnesotans for a Fair Economy coalition (including Rev. Slack and Sunday Alabi, the President of the community group Neighborhoods Organizing for Change). Unemployed workers and local residents have held multiple events at the 10th Avenue Bridge to call attention to the urgent need to create jobs by putting people to work repairing bridges and other infrastructure. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke under the bridge to organized labor earlier this fall.

Shar Knutson, the President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO who took part in the march said, “It’s mind-boggling for there to be so much infrastructure in disrepair, so many people out of work, and yet so little investment in getting these projects going. The race gap in Minnesota’s unemployment rate is unacceptable and must be closed. We believe in a Minnesota that works for everyone.”

A report from Transportation for America found 1,149 of Minnesota’s bridges, 8.8% of bridges in the state, are structurally deficient — including Minneapolis 10th Avenue Bridge in question. On average, more than 83,000 Minnesotans use these unsound bridges daily.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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