MINNEAPOLIS — A man drove a tanker truck toward thousands of protesters on a highway in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, coming to a stop only after members of the crowd desperately sprinted out of its path.
Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota said it was miraculous that no one appeared to have been struck by the truck, although some demonstrators reported that they had seen people injured. The driver was arrested after he was pulled from the truck by protesters.
As the tanker truck came to a stop, demonstrators who had just jumped out of its way swarmed back toward it and pulled the driver out of the cab, according to videos from the scene. He was briefly treated at a hospital for injuries and released into police custody.
Austin Kedrowski said protesters first became aware of the tanker when it began honking from about a quarter-mile away, which it continued doing for about 15 seconds.
“There was just alarm,” Mr. Kedrowski said. “Everyone didn’t know where to go, they didn’t even know which direction the car was coming from until you saw this big, large orange truck just coming full speed.”
Mr. Kedrowski said several people had been injured while they fled.
As protesters pulled the driver from the truck, several people shouted for them to not hurt him and tried to create a buffer zone around the driver. Police officers soon took him into custody, and used pepper spray to force demonstrators to get off the highway bridge.
The confrontation took place on a bridge near downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 35, which had been partly closed to traffic because of the protest.
Commissioner John Harrington of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the tanker appeared to have been on the highway before it was closed. Mr. Harrington did not immediately identify the driver and said he did not know his motive. He called it “one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen.”
The protest had been peaceful and well-organized. The Department of Public Safety had tweeted updates about the group’s location and said its officers were working to keep the demonstrators safe.
“I don’t know the motives of the driver at this time,” Mr. Walz said. “But at this point in time, to not have tragedy and many deaths is simply an amazing thing.”
Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura reported from Minneapolis and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from New York.