NLG Minnesota Condemns MPD For Mass Arrest of Hundreds in Election Protest, Including Minors

MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-MN) and the Legal Rights Center (LRC) stand in solidarity with the hundreds of demonstrators kettled and arbitrarily arrested last night on I-94. These protesters gathered to demand that all votes be counted—a fundamental tenet of a political system that claims to be democratic. At the direction of elected officials, law enforcement arrested over 600 people and cited many others, including four NLG Legal Observers (LOs) and half a dozen or more minors. At least one person was taken into custody, a young Black woman charged with assault of an officer, and is still in jail. The NLG-MN and LRC unequivocally condemns these arrests and citations.

Leading up to the arrests and citations, law enforcement gave no orders to disperse. As people attempted to exit the freeway using access roads, they were not allowed to leave by officers and were then subject to pepper spray. The action was carried out by Minnesota State Troopers, Hennepin County sheriffs, and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD); there are unconfirmed reports that the National Guard was also present. A number of legislators and others have contacted Governor Tim Walz’s office, and have reported the governor’s remarks that last night’s law enforcement actions were intended to “teach a lesson.” After being cited, arrestees were put on buses and dropped off at random locations, including the University of Minnesota campus, U.S. Bank Stadium, Lake Harriet, Bloomington, and others. NLG-MN worked with local activists and jail support to organize car caravans to safely shuttle arrestees back to Minneapolis.

The arrests of NLG LOs and media, present to document the actions of law enforcement, add to the wrongful arrests and are an additional attempt to avoid accountability and documentation of law enforcement actions. One Latinx reporter with a press badge was arrested, while another officer threatened to call Border Patrol on his wife after demanding to see her passport. These tactics, like the others above, are deliberate attempts to create a chilling effect on protest and to scare activists. We are also concerned about the arrests of minors, at least five of whom have been charged with crimes related to being on the freeway. Our hotline received more than 250 phone calls seeking support around citations.

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.