MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – In a federal class action, 27 people say the city of St. Paul illegally arrested and detained them before the Republican National Convention last year. The class claims that before the GOP convention, the city enacted an unconstitutional policy allowing police to use force and make arrests to “ensure that the RNC would receive a warm reception, free of political protestors.”
The class claims police corralled about 200 people in downtown St. Paul, announced a mass arrest, and proceeded to use chemical irritants, plastic bullets and concussion grenades on them.
The class claims the crowd was legally in the area and that it consisted of protestors, concertgoers, legal observers, medics, media and the general public. Police officers handcuffed people and took them to jail, where some were held for 72 hours without probable cause, the class claims.
The class that some people were sprayed with Mace, and one man was hit with a baton, though they were not disobeying the police, which never ordered them to disperse.
Three “peaceful political” protestors filed a second federal lawsuit against public officials, unnamed officers and the FBI. They claim that officers showed up to search one plaintiff’s home and presented a warrant with the wrong address.
The protestors say the officials broke into the home through the attic, came downstairs with their guns drawn, handcuffed the three people and held them in the back yard for more than an hour. The home was searched and no arrests were made.
Both lawsuits say the officers violated the First and Fourth Amendments; the second suit adds violations of the 14th amendment, conspiracy, false imprisonment, trespass and battery.
The class is represented by Robert Kolstad. Lead counsel in the second suit is Joseph Elford of Oakland, Calif.