WON! The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Jan. 7, 2019, overturned the conviction of a man who peacefully protested against police violence on I-94, following the shooting death of Philando Castile.
The case argues the unlawful conviction of Jeffrey Berger, who was convicted of a misdemeanor public nuisance charge after marching on highway Interstate 94 in Saint Paul to protest police violence.
In July 2016, following the shooting of Philando Castile by Officer Jeronimo Yanez, thousands of people protested across the Twin Cities. During the protests, approximately 1,500 people marched on Interstate 94 after eleven vehicles stopped on I-94 east of the Lexington overpass, locked the vehicles, and left them parked in the lanes of traffic. Traffic had already been brought to a halt when Jeffrey Berger, a peaceful, non-violent protester, stepped onto the highway. Berger was one of 47 people arrested on I-94, but he is the only I-94 protesters who went to trial. He was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor public nuisance charge and sentenced to spend 90 days in a correctional facility, which was stayed pending completion of one year of probation. He was also sentenced to pay a $300 mandatory minimum fine.
The ACLU of Minnesota is appealing Berger's conviction, arguing that his conviction violates his First Amendment rights and that the public nuisance statute is too vague. ACLU-MN is also arguing that there is insufficient evidence that Berger did anything wrong in the first place.