Activists protesting what they call “police and state violence against black people” chained themselves to concrete-filled barrels and blocked a busy Boston-area highway at the height of the Thursday morning commute.

State police shut down northbound Interstate 93 south of the city, and I-93 south, in Medford, north of the city, at about 7:30 a.m., inconveniencing thousands of drivers and causing miles-long backups.

The southbound lanes were reopened at about 8 a.m. and the northbound lanes at about 10 a.m. after police and firefighters used power saws to cut protesters out of the barrels to which they were attached while lying in the roadway.

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