Media Contact

Lynette Kalsnes, lkalsnes@aclu-mn.org, 612-270-8531

April 21, 2022

Lawsuit continues against Minneapolis, MPD, and Hennepin County Sheriff

A new process for reviewing the complaints of journalists who were harmed by Minnesota State Patrol while covering the George Floyd and Daunte Wright protests is now in effect. The process will help ensure the complaints are considered in a thorough and timely way.

The state of Minnesota has signed a contract to retain independent expert reviewers, Twin Cities lawyers Clifford Greene and James Welna, to oversee the complaint investigation process.

Journalists mistreated by the State Patrol while covering the protests should file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Internal Affairs unit. The independent expert reviewers will review the handling of these complaints and consider the quality, timeliness, thoroughness, independence, and professionalism of the complaint investigation process. The reviewers will produce a public report that analyzes the process, suggests changes, and includes information such as the number of complaints, and how many DPS sustained.

The deadline for journalists to submit a complaint is October 19, 2022. (Information on filing is below.)

“We encourage every journalist harmed by the Minnesota State Patrol, whether you were arrested, assaulted, had your gear seized, or otherwise prevented from doing your job to submit a complaint and hold the State Patrol accountable for trampling on the First Amendment,” said Teresa Nelson, American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota legal director. “The media must be free to report on protests and law enforcement’s conduct rather than being met with violence and threats. The ACLU-MN will keep fighting to hold MPD and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office accountable for their mistreatment of reporters too.”

The review process is part of a settlement agreement with the State Patrol reached by the ACLU-MN and pro bono co-counsel on behalf of a group of journalists in the Goyette lawsuit. The settlement also included damages for the plaintiffs, and an injunction preventing the State Patrol and other agencies acting with them from assaulting, threatening, detaining, and otherwise harming journalists for doing their jobs.

The review process - and the settlement it’s part of - only involve complaints against the Minnesota State Patrol. The Goyette lawsuit continues against the city of Minneapolis, the MPD, and the Hennepin County Sheriff for their role in harming journalists.

During the protests, law enforcement engaged in an extraordinary escalation of unlawful force deliberately targeting journalists. Officers fired hard projectiles and tear gas at journalists, ordered them to disperse even though curfews exempted the press from leaving, arrested them, and interfered with the media’s ability to document the protests and the police response.

The ACLU-MN and pro bono attorneys from Fredrikson & Byron, the Law Office of Kevin Riach, Apollo Law LLC, Reed Smith, and Siegel Brill sued to stop this misconduct. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of journalist Jared Goyette, the Communications Workers of America, and other journalists.

The Goyette suit was filed in June of 2020, shortly after the George Floyd protests. Learn more at: https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/cases/jared-goyette-et-al-v-city-minneapolis-et-al.

HOW TO SUBMIT A CLAIM

Journalists can either fill out this form at https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/complaint-form-mistreatment-minnesota-state-patrol or create their own written complaint. Then send it to DPS via email (dps.ia@state.mn.us) or snail mail (Minnesota Department of Public Safety Internal Affairs/Affirmative Action, 445 Minnesota St., Suite 530, St. Paul MN 55101-5530).

Written complaints must include the complaint’s signature. An electronic signature (s/name) is acceptable. People can also file a claim by phone.

Please alert the ACLU-MN if you file a complaint. If you email your claim, please just cc us at rhamilton@aclu-mn.org. If you submit a complaint by mail or phone, please email that same address.

The ACLU-MN cannot provide legal advice on individual complaints.

NOTE: The press release was clarified on April 26, 2022, to reflect that the state of Minnesota signed a contract to retain independent expert reviewers, Twin Cities lawyers Clifford Greene and James Welna, to oversee the complaint investigation process.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes, protects, and extends the civil liberties and civil rights of all Minnesotans through litigation, lobbying, and community engagement.

#30#