The ACLU of Minnesota filed a motion in federal court Wednesday for a temporary restraining order to stop law enforcement from attacking and harassing reporters covering the Daunte Wright protests.
Over the past few days, Minnesota State Patrol have shot journalists from the Twin Cities and across the nation with rubber bullets, pepper sprayed them, and arrested or threatened them with arrest, the complaint alleges. A Star Tribune videographer shot in the hand while filming the protests was so severely injured, he required immediate surgery.
State troopers have commanded reporters to leave the area and abandon their reporting, even though curfews in Brooklyn Center and Hennepin County specifically exempted journalists.
“What must cease immediately is law enforcement’s targeted abuse and harassment of journalists, which violates the First Amendment and threatens to cut off the flow of information critical to the functioning of our democratic society,” the motion said. “The Minnesota State Patrol appears to believe it is open-season on journalists again.”
The motion asks the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer. The goal is to end the State Patrol’s abuse and harassment of reporters covering the ongoing protests and the upcoming Derek Chauvin verdict.
“If not enjoined, the State Patrol’s misconduct will not only chill protected speech, it will actively interfere with and curtail journalists’ ability to cover the protests. And the public will suffer,” said the motion, which calls the State Patrol’s actions “part of a pattern of officially sanctioned assaults against the First Amendment that must be curtailed to prevent irreparable harm.”
The filing is a continuation of the lawsuit the ACLU-MN filed last summer with pro bono help from Apollo Law LLC following the police murder of George Floyd, when multiple law enforcement agencies used similar tactics against journalists.
The TRO motion was filed in U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, case number 0:20-cv-01302-WMW-DTS.