A “vast majority” of the Minnesota State Patrol performed a massive purge of emails and texts after police were accused of using excessive force during the George Floyd uprising, according to a recently filed court transcript.
“The purge was neither accidental, automated, nor routine,” the ACLU of Minnesota said in documents filed late Friday as part of an ongoing lawsuit to prevent police assaults on journalists. “The purge did not happen because of a file destruction or retention policy. No one reviewed the purged communications before they were deleted to determine whether the materials were relevant to this litigation. The impact of this purge is compounded by the fact that during the protests Troopers were either directed not to complete use of force reports or told that such reports were not required.”
This destruction of public records makes it nearly impossible to track the State Patrol’s behavior, and the ACLU-MN questions whether that was by design. The filing contends, based on MSP testimony from a July 28, 2021, hearing in the ACLU-MN's Goyette case, that MSP also:
- Concocted false reports to justify abuse of force
- Failed to discipline or reprimand even a single Trooper for misconduct.
“The Minnesota State Patrol’s self-described actions - purging emails after the George Floyd uprising and failing to investigate its improper arrests and assaults on journalists - show an alarming lack of accountability for misconduct and complete disrespect for the right to assemble and the right to a free press. It is time for police and our community to stop turning a blind eye to police misconduct, and we hope this lawsuit helps stop this reprehensible behavior,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson.
The filing is a continuation of the June 2020 lawsuit Goyette et al. V. City of Minneapolis et al. that the ACLU-MN filed on behalf of Jared Goyette, the Communications Workers of America, and other journalists who were attacked by police while covering the George Floyd protests. The lawsuit led to an April 16, 2021, temporary restraining order barring police violence after State Troopers attacked journalists during the Daunte Wright protests. The latest filing Friday asks U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright to convert that TRO into a preliminary injunction.
The ACLU-MN is joined in the case by pro bono attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron, the Law Office of Kevin Riach, and Apollo Law.
Case Number: 0:20-cv-01302-WMW-DTS.
Learn more about the Goyette case at: https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/cases/jared-goyette-et-al-v-city-minneapolis-...