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St. Paul city attorney will dismiss cases against peaceful protesters

The city has nearly 100 civil unrest cases related to the protests and riots.

The city of St. Paul has come up with a plan for resolving the nearly 100 civil unrest cases related to the protests and riots following George Floyd's death, deciding cases against people who were peacefully protesting will be dismissed in the "interest of justice," a news release says.

St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson announced the plan Friday, saying the city attorney's Community Justice Unit will make charging decisions on a case by case basis. 

“Supporting healing in our community following the death of George Floyd means making a distinction between those peacefully protesting, and those causing destruction in our community,” Olson said in a statement. “Our plans for resolving these cases strikes this critical balance.”

The City Attorney's Office says it will inform people whose cases are being dismissed via phone call or letter that explains the decision. They will be invited to dialogue and/or participate in justice outcomes in St. Paul by volunteering as a circle member in their neighborhood with the St. Paul City Attorney's Office ETHOS restorative justice program. 

For those who weren't as peaceful during the protests and riots, the City Attorney's Office says it will use "traditional prosecution" as deemed necessary, but it may offer "alternatives to traditional prosecution," such as the ETHOS program, for some individuals. 

The EHTOS program aims to engage participants in a conversation with community members to identify the harm caused by their offense and develop a plan to repair that harm. Once a participant completes their plan, the case against them is dismissed and an expungement is submitted to the court for approval. 

“Voices of peaceful protest have challenged and renewed our country’s spirit in every generation,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in the release. “I fully support this approach, and appreciate the critical distinction between those who sought to build a better future for our community and those who tried to tear us down.”

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