MILWAUKEE – Indiana State Police arrested Milwaukee protest leaders Frank "Nitty" Sensabaugh and Tory Lowe on Wednesday evening on their march to Washington, D.C. because, police said, the group was blocking traffic.
They were out of custody by 8 p.m. Eastern time.
According to Facebook livestreams from Sensabaugh and Lowe and a news release from state police, the group was walking in the right-hand shoulder of U.S. 30, a divided four-lane highway near Warsaw in Kosciusko County, Indiana.
The group's caravan of vehicles was driving slowly in the right lane to protect the people walking, Sensabaugh said. Others on the highway had been swerving toward the group and throwing things and pointing guns at them, he said.
The slow driving backed up traffic for "several miles," a state police spokesman said in a news release. Area dispatch centers were receiving calls about the backup, he said.
Indiana State Police pulled over the group's lead vehicle around 5 p.m. Eastern time and a trooper at that time told Sensabaugh that the cars had to drive on the shoulder because they were impeding traffic. Sensabaugh said it was their constitutional right to march.
The two argued for a few minutes and then Sensabaugh turned and walked away. He directed the group to "keep walking."
The state police spokesman, in the news release, said eight vehicles were traveling "at walking speed in the right lane creating a dangerous situation for the group as well as traveling motorists. At different times pedestrians would also walk in the travel portion of the roadway and not on the shoulder."
About an hour later, the same trooper, along with several others, stopped the group.
The trooper said the group had traffic backed up for miles and it was a "huge concern for safety." Sensabaugh told the trooper that traffic had been passing smoothly in the left lane.
The trooper said Sensabaugh could either direct the group to walk on the shoulder, with cars trailing in the shoulder, or police would arrest the group for disorderly conduct.
"You guys are going to need to make that decision right now," the trooper said.
As Sensabaugh, Lowe and other march participants were speaking to him, the trooper said they needed to "get out of the roadway." Sensabaugh said he was calling his lawyer, and the trooper directed him to turn around. He began trying to handcuff him with zip ties.
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Lowe became upset, saying repeatedly, "Don't arrest him!" and began trying to physically bar the officer from handcuffing Sensabaugh. The trooper then said Lowe was under arrest for disorderly conduct, and his livestream cuts off.
Police arrested three people "after multiple attempts to gain compliance," the spokesman said: Sensabaugh, Lowe and another participant, 20-year-old Eric Ajala of Milwaukee, on suspicion of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and obstruction of traffic.
Lowe also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting law enforcement.
Police will recommend the charges to the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney's Office — known as a district attorney in Wisconsin — which will decide whether to charge the three.
Around 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, Sensabaugh was speaking with an Indiana lawyer on his livestream as to whether it was illegal for the caravan of cars to drive slowly in the right lane. He also called attention to the fact that the three people arrested were walking on the shoulder, not driving.
Sensabaugh also mentioned that the Porter County, Indiana, sheriff earlier had escorted the group as they marched along the same highway, U.S. 30.
The group was on its ninth day of marching. The protesters had hoped to reach Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech to the massive crowd gathered for the historic March on Washington in 1963.
On Tuesday, Sensabaugh spoke with a local reporter in Warsaw and said the group's experience in Indiana had been mixed.
“Indiana has been really rough, but today has been a really supportive day. We really needed this today. We’ve battled a lot of racism, lot of bad words being called, lot of things said that had nothing to do with us. It’s just been ridiculous how we’ve been treated, so to see the outpouring of these people ... this is an amazing experience to see all these people come together,” the news outlet reported Sensabaugh said.
Follow Sophie Carson on Twitter at @SCarson_News.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Frank Nitty, Tory Lowe: Protest leaders arrested in Indiana on march