Semi driver arrested after rolling into Minneapolis protest
Minneapolis – The driver of a semitrailer who rolled into the midst of thousands of people marching on a closed Minneapolis freeway over the death of George Floyd has been arrested on suspicion of assault, authorities said.
It appeared no one was hurt Sunday, authorities said, but some witnesses said a handful of people who were on Interstate 35W near downtown Minneapolis sought medical attention on their own. Authorities said they could not confirm that.
“He wasn’t stopping. He was beeping loudly and driving into a crowd of people,” Drew Valle, a special education teacher, told the Star Tribune. “That’s the same kind of malice that brought us here. It’s a callous disregard for someone’s humanity.”
The freeway was among many shut down in the Minneapolis area for the second night in a row as officials imposed an 8 p.m. curfew and sought to make it more difficult for protesters to move around. Minneapolis has been the center of protests – some peaceful, some violent – for days over the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died last week after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into his neck as he pleaded for air, and ignored his “I can’t breathe” cries.
Bystander video showed the crowd parting seconds before the semi rolled through, then the tanker truck gradually slowed and demonstrators swarmed the truck.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” the state patrol tweeted. The driver was taken to a hospital for injuries after being pulled from the cab, but was quickly released and was in police custody on probable cause for assault.
In a Sunday evening news conference, Gov. Tim Walz described footage of the truck driving into the crowd as a “horrifying image” and said that it underscores the “volatile” nature of the situation.
“I don’t know the motives of the driver at this point in time,” he said. “But at this point in time to not have tragedy and many deaths is an amazing thing.”
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Sunday that between 5,000 and 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time, and it initially appeared from traffic camera footage that the semitrailer was already on the freeway before barricades were set up at 5 p.m.
State Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said at a later briefing, however, that the truck went around a traffic barrier to stay on the road.
Officer Derek Chauvin, and the three others who were arresting Floyd. have been fired but only Chauvin has been charged. He faces counts of third-degree murder and manslaughter.