Public Safety
Written by Tom Steward | January 28, 2017

Protesters’ Latest Road Shutdown Demonstrates Need for New Law

Protesters took over another major Twin Cities roadway during rush hour on Friday afternoon to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. bridge-protestPresumably they were motivated by the new administration’s decision earlier this week to green light the North Dakota pipeline project for completion.

But what the protesters demonstrated more than anything else is the need to fast track the proposed legislation at the State Capitol to significantly increase fines and jail time for protesters that block highways and jeopardize public safety.

A Dakota Access pipeline protest halted vehicle traffic on a Mississippi River bridge between St. Paul and Minneapolis during rush hour Friday evening. The bridge connecting St. Paul’s Marshall Avenue with Lake Street in Minneapolis was blocked off around 4 p.m. and reopened more than an hour later, Minneapolis police said.

A tweet by Minneapolis police advised motorists to use alternative routes because Lake Street was closed down near West River Parkway and no traffic was crossing over the Lake Street bridge into St. Paul. Despite the rerouting of traffic and implicit threat to public safety from people on the road, authorities did not make any arrests.

For a time, no traffic was crossing west from St. Paul, but by 5:15 p.m., the bridge was open again, police said.

No one was arrested in the march, which included American Indian dancers and chanting against the pipeline. Marchers carried signs that read “Honk if you love water,” Not just a native issue, it’s a nation issue” and “Say no to environmental racism.”police-tweeet

The Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press accounts should server as a reminder of the inexact science of estimating even small crowds, much less Washington rallies. The Minneapolis paper’s guesstimate put the crowd size at 100, while St. Paul estimated 150. Close enough for now.

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