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Protesters Block Freeway in St. Paul as Demonstrations Continue Across US

July 10,2016 10:05

Protesters demonstrating over the use of police force against African-Americans took over a Minnesota highway for hours Saturday, and police said officers were injured by thrown bottles, rocks, bricks and fireworks. A crowd marched onto Interstate 94 ...



Protesters demonstrating over the use of police force against African-Americans took over a Minnesota highway for hours Saturday, and police said officers were injured by thrown bottles, rocks, bricks and fireworks.

A crowd marched onto Interstate 94 at around 7:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET) and refused to leave, NBC affiliate KARE11 reported.

Police said on Twitter that people on an overpass were "throwing objects at officers, dumping liquid on officers" and others were throwing rocks and a construction material called rebar. Police also said a molotov cocktail was thrown at officers, but it doesn't appear that anyone was hurt.

Police said at least five officers officers in all were injured by thrown objects, but none of the injuries were serious.

Police gave more than a dozen orders to leave the freeway but the crowd refused. Some chanted "we ain't scared," according to reporter for KARE11. The crowd also repeated the name of Philando Castile, 32, who was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer in the Saint Paul suburb of Falcon Heights on Wednesday.

Police were heard telling the crowd, "leave the interstate now or you'll be subject to a use of force" shortly after 10:30 p.m. Police blamed "aggressors" for throwing rocks and other objects at officers, and said police were using "marking rounds."

By shortly after 11:30 p.m. aerial footage showed most of the crowd had retreated up a hillside, with officers lining the pavement.

By 12:45 a.m. Sunday, police said they were clearing debris from the road in order to reopen the highway.

The protests in the Saint Paul area occurred as demonstrators hit the streets in several cities across the country for the fourth night in a row. Many demonstrations were sparked by recent fatal police shootings of black men, including Castile.

Earlier in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hundreds gathered at a convenience store for another day of protest at the site where Alton Sterling was fatally shot during an encounter with two white police officers Tuesday.

Some wore T-shirts that read, "I can't keep calm I have a black son" or "Black Lives Matter."

The protests at several locations in the city were still underway by 10:30 local time (11:30 p.m. ET).

Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed, with the group Stop the Killing Inc., demands the resignation of Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden during a news conference at the Triple S convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot dead by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. JONATHAN BACHMAN / Reuters
Baton Rouge resident Marie Flowers came to the protest with her three children.

Pointing to the crowds shouting along a fence surrounding the police department she said: "To me, this is just a snapshot of north Baton Rouge and how frustrated they are. They are so frustrated with this bull crap."

At one point, she gestured to her 12-year-old son and said they were there to protect men like him. "Black boys are being killed and this is just the culmination of what has been going on for decades," Flowers said.

Prominent "Black Lives Matter" activist DeRay McKesson was reportedly taken into police custody Saturday night during protests in Baton Rouge. A reporter for public radio station WNWO was also arrested, the radio station said.

Earlier, Baton Rouge police made around five arrests by Saturday evening and three firearms were recovered, police Lt. Jonny Dunnam said.

Around 300 to 400 people were gathered near Baton Rouge police headquarters by Saturday evening, NBC affiliate WVLA reported. During protests Friday night and into Saturday morning, 30 people were arrested in the city, police said.

Protesters in San Francisco and Fresno, California, blocked entrance ramps to freeways during demonstrations Saturday, officials said.

In Chicago, hundreds of protesters held demonstrations downtown Saturday, and a group attempted to disrupt the a city-sponsored food and music festival.

"No Justice, NO REVENUE," said a Facebook invitation to the demonstration, set to be held at "Taste of Chicago."

The festival was not closed, NBC Chicago reported. Protesters continued on a march and staged sit-ins and blocked intersections, the station reported.

The deaths of Sterling and Castile renewed scrutiny of the use of deadly police force on African-Americans. As a protest was underway in Dallas Thursday, a gunman who said he was upset at white people opened fire on police officers, killing five officers and wounding seven others in what officials described as a targeted attack. The gunman was killed by police.

Related: More Than 100 Arrested at Baton Rouge, Rochester Black Lives Matter Protests

Hundreds of people also marched in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Saturday as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in demonstrations that ended peacefully.

Protesters in Fort Lauderdale chanted "No justice, no peace" and "Hands up, don't shoot." At one point the protest stopped outside a Broward County jail and prisoners banged on windows in support, but the protest was largely calm.

"It's love out here. Everybody is happy and peaceful, it's not something that we are coming to tear another race down," a rally organizer told NBC Miami.

People take part in a protest against police shootings and in support of Black Lives Matter during a march in New York July 9, 2016. EDUARDO MUNOZ / Reuters
A protest march was also held in Philadelphia. "Clearly this is REVOLUTION time. We know this," an organizer wrote on Facebook.

Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, several hundred people broke off from Pittsburgh's 200th anniversary parade and marched to a courthouse to denounce the shootings of black men.

More than 150 people also gathered in downtown Newport, Rhode Island, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Seneca Pender of Middletown organized the rally. He told the crowd that the senseless killings of black people "have to stop."

Pender also thanked law enforcement officers who provided security at the rally in Newport and decried the deadly attack Thursday on police officers in Dallas.

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