WINONA, Minn. - Police arrested dozens of protesters in Winona County Monday morning.
They were blocking trucks carrying frac sand, which is used to mine natural gas.
Frac sand mining has been a hot-button issue in Midwestern communities and around the country because of health and environmental concerns.
Singing, not yelling, filled the air as law enforcement officers led protesters away to the sound of applause.
The level-headed tone was intentional. Protesters said they trained over the weekend to make sure Monday's event didn't get out of hand.
The point was to disrupt business-as-usual for multiple frac sand operations in Winona County.
Officers from the Winona Police Department, Winona County Sheriff's Department and State Patrol were called in to keep the situation under control.
"They're under arrest for trespassing. They've been asked to leave and they won't," said Winona County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Ron Ganrude as he escorted protester Dan Wilson from the Winona Port Authority in handcuffs.19944858
"It's our contention that the frac sand industry is trespassing in our local communities," said Wilson, a Winona resident.
Wilson and other protesters with the Catholic Worker Movement only had the chance to block a truck full of frac sand for about 15 minutes before they were arrested.
"I was hoping to not get arrested," said Wilson, as he leaned against a squad car in handcuffs. "Our hope would be that the police officers along with the drivers of the trucks would realize that this is an industry that is incredibly divisive and is incredibly harmful to this ecological area."
But Dan Nisbit said the protesters' actions were misguided. He's the co-owner of CD Corp., whose truck the protesters blocked at the Winona Port Authority. Nisbit said it's the company's workers the protesters are really hurting.
"They're paid by the load, so [by] how much they haul. So when something like this happens, they're not being compensated for having to sit," said Nisbit. "Other than getting a little bit of publicity, I don't really think it helps the matter. It just kind of sensationalizes it a little bit."
Even though the protesters weren't able to disrupt business for long, they hope their actions will inspire others to stand up for their cause.
A total of 34 protesters were arrested for trespassing at the Winona Port Authority and a frac sand cleaning and processing facility at 2121 Goodview Road.
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