Members of the St. Paul offshoot of Black Lives Matter say they will try to disrupt light-rail service Sunday before the Vikings game in an effort to protest actions of Metro Transit officers who used force earlier this month in making an arrest, injuring an autistic teen.
The so-called #BlackRail protest will begin about 9:30 a.m. near the Lexington Parkway light-rail station on the Green Line, where Metro Transit officers tried to arrest Marcus Abrams on Sept. 2. Abrams had been standing on the light-rail tracks and didn’t hear officers’ orders when they approached him because he was wearing headphones, his mother said after the incident.
Thinking the teen was resisting arrest, officers forcefully brought him to the ground. Metro Transit police are investigating the incident.
“Just by talking to him they should have known that something in his mind was not right,” Abrams’ mother said after her son’s encounter with police. The family has decried the quick escalation of force used to incapacitate Abrams and has called for better training of police in dealing with autistic people.
Nearly 100 people had responded to an invitation to Sunday’s disruption on the group’s Facebook page.
“This is a disciplined, peaceful protest against this injustice and all police excessive force,” the group said on Facebook. “As a community we all know that autism is not a crime. … Come out and let your voice be heard in support of Marcus Abrams. We want those officers fired.”
The group stated it chose Sunday to protest because it’s the Vikings’ home opener — a “big money day, so what better day to shut the light rail down and disrupt business as usual.” Black Lives Matter St. Paul, an offshoot of the larger Minneapolis chapter, first gained attention after holding a protest at the State Fair over what it deemed organizers’ unfair treatment of minority vendors. After the rally, organizers were accused of promoting violence against officers after several of the protesters shouted “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!”