MILTON (CBS) — Protesters chained to cement barrels and locking arms inside plastic tubing shut down parts of Interstate 93 in Milton and Medford during the Thursday morning rush hour.
Chanting “Black Lives Matter,” some activists created major traffic delays in the area by attaching themselves to 1,200-pound barrels unloaded from a white box truck in East Milton Square at about 7:30 a.m. Police arrested 27 protesters on charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and they will appear in Somerville District Court later Thursday.
Massachusetts State Police said several protesters in Milton were found to be wearing adult diapers, indicating that they planned to say on the highway for a long time.
“This is not only immature, this is not only irresponsible, but the conduct is reckless and endangering people’s lives,” State Police Col. Tim Alben said. “There cannot be any tolerance for this.”
It was nearly 10 a.m. before all highway lanes in Milton could be reopened.
The protesters linking arms in Medford were taken off the highway at 8:30 a.m.
A press release sent to media outlets from activists said the actions were “in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“Today, our nonviolent direct action is meant to expose the reality that Boston is a city where white commuters and students use the city and leave, while Black and Brown communities are targeted by police, exploited, and displaced,” said Korean-American activist Katie Seitz in the statement.
Activists also displayed signs reading “United Against Racism” and “The System Is Racist Shut It Down.”
State police said the protest had dangerous unintended consequences, citing an ambulance that had to be diverted. That ambulance was carrying someone with life-threatening injuries suffered in an Easton crash to Boston, but had to be redirected to Brockton because of the traffic.
“People’s rights are people’s rights, but you’re endangering people’s lives with this kind of conduct,” Alben said. “Hopefully the court system will hold them accountable.”
Gov. Charlie Baker thanked police and first responders for handling the disruption professionally.
“The Governor believes the events that inspired recent demonstrations are tragedies but feels engaging in substantive conversations with public safety officials, not endangering drivers and impeding access to medical facilities, is the best way forward,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said in a statement.
The Boston area saw several protests in November and December following grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the police-involved deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York. But the local protesters had not successfully shut down major highways until Thursday.
“Blocking the Expressway during rush hour is NOT the right way to get your message out,” a Massachusetts State Police spokesman posted to Twitter.
Video from scene in Milton:
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports:
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