By Carlin Ross
MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier this week, hundreds of people marched to protest that their mail in votes were not being counted – in response, police attacked more than 600 people, including children, members of the news media and legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild.
When the crowd merged onto I-94, Minnesota State Troopers, Hennepin County sheriffs, and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) surrounded the protesters to keep them from entering the freeway. There have also been reports of National Guard sightings during the arrests.
The protesters had intended to march two miles through downtown Minneapolis, but they never completed their loop.
According to legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild, law enforcement never gave orders to disperse, and sprayed the crowd with pepper spray, arrested them, and dropped the arrestees off at random locations around Minnesota including Bloomington, Lake Harriet, Bank Stadium, and even the University of Minnesota campus.
The Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild (NLG-MN) worked with local community activist groups to organize and provide shuttles for arrestees to safely return to Minneapolis.
“These actions by the MPD, and the overwhelming silence from elected officials, are a striking demonstration of why the MPD cannot be reformed; it must be dismantled. The community is well aware that our elected officials will continue to defend the police department at every opportunity, so it is up to us to continue advocating and agitating for genuine change. We will not stop until our community’s demands are met,” said the NLG.
During this protest for basic legal rights, law enforcement arrested more than 600 people and cited many others. As described by the NLG, in condemning the arrests and citations, law enforcement didn’t discriminate against any single protester, but, instead, they moved to eliminate all of the protesters in one fell swoop.
According to the NLG, one young Black woman was charged with assault, while a Latinx reporter with a press badge was arrested, and another officer threatened to call Border Control on the reporter’s wife after demanding her passport.
Additionally, NLG Legal Observers, and over half a dozen minors, also fell victim to the hands of law enforcement. At least five of the minors have been charged with crimes related to walking on I-94, and over 250 have called the NLG seeking support regarding citations.
Four NLG legal observers were arrested – nationwide, NLG LOs are considered non-participants, like news media and not usually subject to arrest.
Gov. Tim Waltz, informed of the mass arrests by state legislators, said that law enforcement actions were merely intended to “teach a lesson.”
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