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Traffic Stopped, Two Arrested, During Martin Luther King March In Bloomington
Updated January 20, 2015 7:17 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Bloomington Police arrested two men during a "Reclaim MLK" protest that halted rush hour traffic at the intersection of Third Street and College Mall Road Monday evening.

Around 5 p.m. about 150 people started to march from the former O'Malia's parking lot in the 500 block of South College Mall Road and headed north chanting "No justice", "No peace," "No racist police," "Hands up, don't shoot" and "I can't breathe."

The group then stopped traffic from all directions at the intersection of East Third Street and College Mall Road/Ind. 46 Bypass.

The Herald Times reports that protesters, with large wooden signs, stood in the crosswalks refusing to move for honking motorists.

More than a dozen Bloomington police officers arrived at the scene, urging participants to stop obstructing traffic and to get to safety on the sidewalk.

Tension during the protest reached its peak when two men were arrested. One officer had a body camera tore from his uniform and damaged during the protest.

As an officer escorted Joe Varga to a police car, two officers ordered Michael McConnell to stop running through the crowd and evading police. They eventually took him to the ground and detained him in a crosswalk.

52-year-old Varga of Bloomington was arrested on a charge of obstructing traffic. Varga is an Indiana University labor studies faculty member and a social justice activist in Bloomington.

22-year-old McConnell, also of Bloomington, was jailed on charges of battery on a police officer, resisting law enforcement and obstructing traffic.

The crowd then moved back south along College Mall Road. Several protesters refused to cooperate with police who attempted to herd people to the sidewalk..

A second protest began later Monday at Peoples Park. Around 9:20 p.m., a group of about 20 people and one dog left the park and headed west on East Kirkwood Avenue. Dressed in black, hooded sweatshirts and with bandanna over their lower faces they chanted, "Fire to the Prisons" and "Freedom to the Prisoners."

Police in cruisers trailed behind the activists at they marched past the courthouse, then headed north on College Avenue to Eighth Street, where they stopped to chant slogans.

Police blocked off College Avenue traffic at Eighth Street. The group then headed west on Eighth Street and turned south on Morton Street, circled around to Seventh Street, with more demonstrating going on near the Monroe County Jail and the Zietlow Justice Center.

The march turned south on Morton Street and circled around to Seventh Street, with more demonstrating going on near the Monroe County Jail and the Zietlow Justice Center.

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