Black Lives Matter Disrupts Light Rail Service Despite Counter-Protesters



The Lexington Parkway station of the Metro Transit Green Line was crowded on the morning of September 20 due to a protest by Black Lives Matter St. Paul.

The approximately 75 protesters, who chose to protest when they did due to public transportation to the Minnesota Vikings home opener, focused on the case of Marcus Abrams, a 17-year-old injured by police during a confrontation following his standing on the light rail tracks August 31.

Protesters expressed anger because, though standing or walking on the tracks is illegal, Abrams has autism, is legally blind, and was wearing headphones at the time of the altercation.

Abrams said that the police did not explain why he was detained when he asked, and that they responded physically afterwards. He said the police taunted him when he requested for them to stop touching him. He told them he was going to try to get away before he was slammed onto the ground. Abrams emerged from the confrontation with cuts on his face and lips.

Abrams’ mother and one of his friends also spoke with the press; during his mother’s interview, attention was drawn to three counter-protesters standing several yards away from the main protest. The counter-protesters were carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, an American flag, and a Confederate flag, the latter of which was held by B.C. Johnson, an African-American man with “Minnesota 10,000 for Southern Heritage.”

“We are here to protect the rights of the innocent. We have no problem with people who decide they want to protest…but the innocent do not need to be caught in the crossfire. If you have a grievance with the police, you should talk to the police instead of holding the public hostage,” Johnson said.

Several African Americans from the Black Lives Matter protest approached Johnson and his peers, shouting obscenities including the n-word.

“I never thought I’d see the day:a black Confederate,” said one protester.

As the protesters verbally confronted the flag holders, an organizer of the protest came over and told the protesters to ignore Johnson and the others and to rejoin the main protest back at the light rail station.

Black Lives Matter protesters reminded Johnson that whites used to lynch his ancestors while holding the flag, and that perhaps he should have a rope around his neck.

A reporter from Fox 9 asked Johnson if he was hurt. Johnson responded simply, “No.”

The same reporter asked how Johnson felt about other African Americans calling him a sellout.

“Well, last time I checked I didn’t have a price on my life,” said Johnson, “It’s priceless, actually, so, if someone can cover a priceless tag, maybe I would be a sellout.”

After the confrontation with the counter-protesters, Black Lives Matter began marching west on the Light Rail tracks toward the Hamline Avenue station.

While marching, the protesters chanted Abrams’s name, “Black Lives Matter,” and a back and forth chant that said, “Whose rail? Our rail!”

Additionally, the flag holders other than Johnson intentionally obstructed the march by standing in the way at several points. At this time, a protester stole the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

Once they reached the Hamline Avenue station, the protesters staged a four-minute die-in on the tracks. During the die-in, counter-protesters pleaded with Black Lives Matter, asking for their flag back.

Black Lives Matter St. Paul then decided to move their protest off of University Avenue and went to the St. Paul police station, where the protest concluded with more chanting.

The Light Rail Service was disrupted for approximately one hour during the protest; in the meantime, Metro Transit provided bus services to displaced customers.

Metro Transit is currently investigating the August incident between Abrams and the police.

Video coverage of the protest can be found on our YouTube channel.