ACLU of Minnesota files lawsuit on behalf of journalists

WCCO Radio Newsroom
June 03, 2020 - 12:39 pm

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday night on behalf of journalists. The lawsuit claims that journalists have been targeted by law enforcement while covering protests in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. 

    The case claims that throughout the past week law enforcement has used excessive force and targeted journalists. They have been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and shot in the face with rubber bullets, leaving one photographer temporarily blind in one eye. 

    The case also brings attention to journalists being arrested without cause and threatened at gunpoint even after identifying themselves with credentials. Some journalists were also arrested in the middle of reporting on the events. 

    The ACLU of Minnesota along with Fredrikson & Byron P.A. and Apollo Law LLC are suing the City of Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, police union head Lt. Bob Kroll, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer. 

    The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Jared Goyette. While documenting protesters protecting an injured young African American man, police shot projectiles that hit Goyette in the face and left him temporarily blinded. 

    “I'm texting my daughter, the next thing I know I'm on the ground and there is searing pain in my eye,” Goyette said, “it was just pain and confusion.” 

    Goyette was quickly helped by protestors. Then as he was stumbling away tear gas was shot in his direction. He was then helped by an elderly woman who brought him to an area where he could sit down and collect himself. 

    “Without journalists there, police or other people in power can feel a sense of impunity that no one will see what’s happening anyway,” Goyette said, “everyone needs to know people are watching.”

    The lawsuit calls for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to halt law enforcement from attacking and targeting journalists. It also says that police conduct violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. 

    The first amendment protects the freedom of the press and ACLU of Minnesota claims that this freedom is being targeted by law enforcement. 

    “We depend on a free press to hold the police and government accountable for its actions,” ACLU of Minnesota Legal Director Teresa Nelson said, “especially at a time like this when police have brutally murdered one of our community members, and we must ensure that justice is done.”

    The case Jared Goyette et al. v. City of Minneapolis et al. was filed in U.S. District Court in the Minnesota District. ACLU of Minnesota is also looking into legal options for stopping police brutality against protestors and POC organizers. 

    “What I do think is that we can see a pattern,” Goyette said, “I think that there is a larger pattern of incidents over the course of several days that indicates that it’s very likely that journalists were in some cases being targeted.” 

     

     

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