MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - State officials said Monday the incident in which a tanker truck swerved through a crowd of protesters on I-35W does not appear to have been an intentional act.
Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said they had directed the Department of Transportation to close the freeways sooner than planned when protesters started moving towards the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. But, when MnDOT started closing the entrance ramps, the driver, who was coming from Interstate 94 to I-35W, was already on the freeway.
Harrington said the driver was speeding, going about 70 miles per hour, and he “panicked” when he saw the crowd. The lift in the freeway before the bridge may have prevented him from seeing the protesters sooner.
The tanker truck was empty, Harrington said.
Harrington's comments confirmed what state officials suspected Sunday night, that the tanker truck was already on the highway when MnDOT closed it down and the driver did not go around any barriers.
Tanker truck swerves through crowd of protesters on I-35W bridge
The march honoring George Floyd, started just after 4 p.m. Sunday, departing U.S. Bank Stadium and heading into downtown toward the Hennepin County Government Center. The group then moved across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, down University Avenue and onto I-35W.
Just after 6 p.m., a tanker truck came from the south headed north at a high rate of speed, honking its horn as it swerved through the crowd at Washington Avenue.
A short time after the incident, police moved in quickly to disperse the crowd that pulled the driver from the cab. Helicopter shots showed law enforcement grabbing one man and shoving him into a squad while moving the crowd.
The driver was booked into the Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of assault. There were no reports of protesters hurt during the incident.
Some protesters protected driver after being pulled from cab
After being pulled from the truck, a mob of people grabbed at the driver. However, a video shared online shows a group of men protecting the driver.
"We can not hurt him," one man said. "It defeats our purpose."
Other members of the crowd shouted "stop" and told the crowd to get the police.