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Black Lives Matter protesters march through NE Indiana; on 750-mile trek to nation’s capital

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Black Lives Matter protesters marched along a highway in Whitley County, on their way to the nation's capital.

WHITLEY COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Men, women and children on foot trudged along Lincolnway Highway in Whitley County Thursday, surrounded by vehicles that are part of a larger caravan.

The group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators are taking part in a 750-mile journey to Washington D.C.

On Thursday, they occupied the right hand lane heading east on the two-lane Lincolnway Highway, causing some motorists to have to wait behind them until they could get an opening to pass.

Some members of the contingent were arrested Wednesday, after Indiana State Police said they ignored orders to get out of traffic on the busy U.S. 30 Highway in Kosciusko County.

State troopers confronted the protesters several times as they slowly progressed along the four-lane highway.

Police say they were warned to stay on the shoulder and not in main traffic lanes, so cars and trucks could get by.

Police say traffic was backed up for several miles and eventually troopers arrested three people on minor charges, including disorderly conduct.

One of the main organizers, Frank Nitty of Milwaukee, was among those booked into jail for a brief time.

Police insist they had no beef with the protesters expressing their free speech rights.

"This incident that happened Wednesday night has nothing to do with protests. It just became an unsafe situation with impeding and blocking traffic," said Sgt. Ted Bohner with Indiana State Police out of Bremen.

The march from Milwaukee to Washington D.C. is planned to coincide with the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28th.

Nitty says his group has faced some hostilities from opponents on the open road since they began in Wisconsin, but that he and his colleagues are focusing on their goal to bring awareness to racial inequality and police brutality they hold is too often directed at African Americans.

"We talk about this being a spiritual journey, a lot of people are finding peace, a lot of people are changing within themselves. A lot of them know this is for something bigger than them," Nitty said.

At times, the long distance walking creates sore feet and fatigue, but the protesters maintain they can press on when they focus on the finish line still hundreds of miles away.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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