A federal judge just ruled that a lawsuit against the Minnesota State Patrol and former Minneapolis police union head over attacks on journalists covering the George Floyd protests can move ahead.
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright on Thursday denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case against Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington, MSP Colonel Matthew Langer, and former MPD union head Bob Kroll.
The ACLU-MN, Fredrikson & Byron P.A., Apollo Law LLC and the Law Office of Kevin C. Riach brought Jared Goyette et al. v. City of Minneapolis et al. on behalf of the Communications Workers of America and journalists including Jared Goyette who were arrested and/or attacked while doing their jobs as members of a free press.
Law enforcement fired hard projectiles and tear gas at journalists, ordered them to disperse even though curfews exempted the press, arrested them, and interfered with the media’s ability to observe and document the George Floyd protests and the police response. Police continued doing so during the Daunte Wright protests, even in the face of a temporary restraining order won by the ACLU-MN.
“Plaintiffs plausibly allege that the State Defendants had supervisory control over the Minnesota State Patrol’s response to the protests, had notice of a pattern of unconstitutional acts, and were deliberately indifferent to the unconstitutional acts,” wrote U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright.
“The chill caused by the State Defendants’ alleged policy and custom of targeting the press presents both an imminent and ongoing injury,” she wrote.
The judge allowed the case to move ahead on allegations the state denied 14th Amendment rights to due process, committed civil conspiracy and failed to intervene. She found for the state only on a single issue, denying a Fifth-Amendment claim.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the Minnesota District seeks a permanent injunction to stop law enforcement from attacking and targeting journalists, now and in the future; a declaration that police conduct violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; and damages.
The lawsuit points out that police have a history of unconstitutional actions against journalists, and are displaying a failure to train, supervise, investigate and discipline officers over constitutional violations of journalists’ rights.