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Daunte Wright protests: Police treatment of residents, media in spotlight

There were reports of residents not involved in the protest being detained, and media members being held and forced to show credentials.

While the scenes in Brooklyn Center were less intense Wednesday than on some previous nights, the night's developments have once again thrown the spotlight onto police treatment of civilians during the protests over the death of Daunte Wright.

After complaints over the liberal use of tear gas that saw peaceful protesters, members of the media, and residents living in the vicinity of Brooklyn Center Police Department, it was not used on Wednesday evening, though smaller-scale chemical irritants like pepper spray was used on protesters surrounding the precinct.

But as the evening wore on, some of the other tactics employed by police as they tried to clear the area have come under scrutiny, with members of the media and local residents among those caught up in it.

Left-wing media collective Unicorn Riot streamed video of a woman in her bathrobe being taken to the ground by four riot police. It appears to be the same woman who had been interviewed a few moments earlier by the Minnesota Reformer's Max Nesterak, who identified her as a resident of the apartment building adjacent to the police department.

But Operation Safety Net, which is coordinating the response to the protests, says that the woman was booked into Hennepin County Jail for probable cause riot, and state her address as being in St. Paul.

Members of the media covering the protests were also detained, with Unicorn Riot saying one of its reporters was held by officers who "took his microphone out of his hand and threw it into some trees," where he found it after being released.

"It appears officers took the mic lapel flag as a souvenir because it was gone from the mic when it was recovered," the media collective tweeted.

Fox News national reporter Lauren Blanchard and her crew were also detained by police as they tried to leave the area, with Blanchard saying police ordered them on their knees and took pictures of their IDs.

Speaking at an early morning press conference, Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer said law enforcement managing the protests "have refined a process to quickly ID credentialed members of the media who get wrapped up in events to work with them quickly so they can get back to their jobs."

"We want media there covering these events," he said.

The treatment of journalists observing the protests have drawn national attention after the Minnesota State Patrol told them to leave the area during Tuesday night's protests, sparking concerns about the lack of independent observers present to witness clashes between police and protesters. 

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There have also been instances of journalists being caught up in the crossfire, with a Star Tribune videographer suffering a broken finger from a rubber bullet sustained in Monday's protests.

On Wednesday, the ACLU-Minnesota announced it has filed a motion in federal court for a temporary restraining order to "stop law enforcement from attacking and harassing reporters covering the Daunte Wright protests."

“What must cease immediately is law enforcement’s targeted abuse and harassment of journalists, which violates the First Amendment and threatens to cut off the flow of information critical to the functioning of our democratic society,” the motion said. “The Minnesota State Patrol appears to believe it is open-season on journalists again.”

Similar complaints have been made by journalist organizations.

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