Demonstrators lie down on I-35W, march on City Hall for 'black lives matter' protest

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Protesters chanting "black lives matter", "I can't breathe" and "this is what democracy looks like" blocked northbound Interstate-35W in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon, backing up traffic as they marched to City Hall.

Traffic on the interstate was backed up for miles as protesters lay prone on the road, closing the road for more than an hour, before they marched into downtown.

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MPR News estimated more than 100 protesters marched down I-35W from around 1.30 p.m., halting traffic on South 10th Street and South 5th Avenue, as they made their way to Minneapolis City Hall.

Some demonstrators staged a "die in" on the interstate and in City Hall in response to recent instances of unarmed black men – and one child – dying as a result of actions by police officers.

After getting to City Hall, protesters entered the Minneapolis City Council offices,

" target="_blank">FOX 9's Leah Beno reported on Twitter, where council members Cam Gordon and Jacob Frey answered "heated questions" from the crowd.

MPR reports that protesters started to leave City Hall shortly before 4.30 p.m., with leaders wrapping up the demonstration.

Two weeks ago, a grand jury decided not to indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown. On Wednesday, a grand jury didn't indict a New York City police officer who placed Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold earlier this summer.

He later died. Both were unarmed. Protesters were also referencing the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was shot and killed by police in Cleveland.

This may be one of the first times in recent years a major freeway in Minnesota has been taken over like this, according to a tweet from Star Tribune reporter Eric Roper, who searched through the newspaper's archives.

More from the scene:

The Minneapolis Police Department released a statement Thursday afternoon during the demonstration:

The protests began after the noon fast food strike in downtown Minneapolis. Some people involved in the strike joined the demonstration that traveled down I-35W to Minneapolis City Hall, reports say.

Similar demonstrations were held around the country this week, shutting down major roadways in several cities, reports say.

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