Why Activists Shut Down Interstate 35W

The names of the dead rang out over a loudspeaker on a Minneapolis street corner. Each name was a man, woman or child, most of them black, who had died at the hands of police — murdered – claimed the woman reading them off from her smartphone.

“I literally can’t finish this list. I literally…we don’t have the time to finish this list. And those are just the names we know.”

She was one of dozens who had gathered in the street on Thursday with signs calling for an end to police violence. It was a week when grand juries in two different states had refused to indict police officers who had caused the deaths of black men. The latest incident, police strangling an unarmed man to death in New York, was captured on video and is prompting a federal investigation.

Many in the group had just come from a protest calling for a livable $15-an-hour wage for fast food workers at a nearby Burger King.

After the names of the dead were read, police in unmarked cars blocked traffic as the group marched out on to Interstate 35W where marchers shut the busy freeway down and then continued on to Minneapolis City Hall.

More videos of the protests leading up to the shutting down I-35W.

The protests started at 5:30am when more than 100 members of CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, fast food workers, friends and supporters gathered in front of the not-yet-open for the day Uptown Library in Minneapolis and marched to the nearby McDonald’s. They sat inside holding signs promoting a $15 per hour wage.

Then at noon, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges joined the activists to support striking Burger King workers who want a livable $15 an hour wage. It was part of the national effort in more than 150 cities seeking a living wage and other benefits for traditionally low-paid workers. Health care workers (who organized a union a few months ago) and other workers joined in solidarity.
Vern Johnson, home health care worker, said, “Everyone who works for a living should be able to make a living wage.”

Hodges expressed her continued support for workers living wage and the workers’ right to organize. She said a living wage is not only good for the workers, it is also good for the community and the city. Ninth Ward Minneapolis Council member Alondra Cano, a long-time supporter of the workers’ unions, reminded the crowd, “If we are not getting into trouble, we are not doing our job.”

Above: video of the reading of the names and the start of the march to the interstate.
Below: videos of the protests at McDonald’s and Burger King and a comprehensive look at the rally and march onto 35W from Ahmed Tharwat.


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Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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