Black Lives Matter Activist Behind Highway Shutdowns Is Rewarded With White House Visit

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A Black Lives Matter activist who uses highway shutdowns as a protest tactic was rewarded with a White House visit on Wednesday.

Mica Grimm was among a group of activists, police officials and city leaders called to meet with President Obama to discuss police reform. Also present at the three-hour session were Al Sharpton and DeRay Mckesson, one of the faces of the national Black Lives Matter movement. Several members of Obama’s Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing attended as well.

Last week Grimm helped organize a shutdown of I-94, which runs through St. Paul. The protest was held in the wake of the police-involved shooting of Philando Castile, a St. Paul native who was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop.

The day before the highway protest, Micah X. Johnson killed five Dallas police officers during a demonstration there. At the St. Paul rally, 21 officers were injured. One suffered a severed vertebrae after someone dropped a concrete block on his head from an overpass.

Here’s how MPR News described the scene during last week’s protest:

There, Black Lives Matter activist Mica Grimm counseled followers to film everything, saying that the dynamics of protests have changed dramatically in the past year.

“We know that we’re at risk just by showing up,” she said. “And that’s why it is so brave, so courageous, and we’re about to make some noise today.”

Grimm stood in the back of a truck equipped with a sound system, leading approximately 500 people up Lexington Avenue.

The truck hopped a median at Lexington Avenue and I-94, bypassing the State Patrol squad cars that were blocking the ramp down to the highway.

Grimm began using highway shutdowns as a protest tactic in 2014, just after the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“We were seeing people all over the country do huge actions. We were all sitting here wondering if anyone was going to do something,” Grimm told MPR News in 2014. “I got a Facebook message from a friend of mine. He asked me if I thought we should take over a highway. And I was like, ‘I think we should do a die-in on a highway.'”

Grimm has since led protesters in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area to shut down I-35 and I-94. The tactic, which can back up traffic for miles, has proved controversial. Even some Black Lives Matter supporters have expressed concern that the shutdowns will hurt the cause.

Grimm was supportive of protesters, who engaged in chants of “fuck the police.” In one tweet she repeated the chant.

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