Skip to main content

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety will pay the ACLU hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by journalists who were injured while covering civil unrest in the Twin Cities.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in June 2020 on behalf of independent journalists and the Communications Workers of America, after some were injured by the Minnesota State Patrol while covering the protests following the killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright in May 2020 and April 2021. 

The lawsuit alleged the agency violated journalists' rights and accused law enforcement of deliberately targeting journalists with unlawful force. That included firing hard projectiles and tear gas at reporters, ordering them to disperse despite being exempt from curfews, arresting them, and interfering with the media's ability to observe and document the protests. 

Related [June 3, 2020]: ACLU sues Minneapolis PD over actions against journalists covering George Floyd protests

A federal judge recently approved the $825,000 settlement and a permanent injunction that prohibits the Minnesota State Patrol from attacking or arresting journalists. 

“The court’s ground-breaking injunction will hold state law enforcement accountable and require them to respect the First Amendment, rather than use violence and threats that deter the media from covering protests and police conduct,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson. “We need a free press to help us hold the police and government accountable. Without a free press, we don’t have a free society, and we can’t have justice.”

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) said it will also pay for an independent external review of all internal affairs cases related to alleged trooper mistreatment of media in May 2020 and April 2021. Among the other terms in the settlement: 

  • The State Patrol will require an internal affairs investigation of any allegation of media mistreatment misconduct 
  • The State Patrol will require immediate notification of a supervisor when a member of the media is arrested or detained
  • DPS will deploy a media ombudsman and media field liaison in mass arrest situations
  • The State Patrol will contract with an expert to provide training to troopers on interacting with the media and the First Amendment, with the initial training session open to any member of the media that would like to attend
  • The State Patrol will provide training on crowd control for all cadets and additional data retention training for all troopers

The ACLU notes the State Patrol, for the next six years, is prohibited from: 

  • Arresting, threatening to arrest or using physical force/chemical agents against journalists 
  • Ordering them to stop photographing or recording protests
  • Making journalists disperse
  • Seizing or intentionally damaging a journalist's equipment

All troopers must have a body-worn camera by June 2022, and will be required to prominently display their agency name and badge number on their person when responding to protests, the ACLU said. 

DPS noted it agreed to settle the lawsuit "without further costs and with no admission of liability by any party."

“The ability of journalists to cover civil unrest in our communities must be protected and encouraged,” DPS Commissioner John Harrington said in a statement. “The hallmarks of this agreement are transparency, accountability and excellence in policing. Our agency is committed to those principles as we work with members of the media to implement the terms of this agreement.”

The lawsuit was also filed against the City of Minneapolis, former Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, former Minneapolis Police union head Robert Kroll, and the Hennepin County Sheriff. Those lawsuits continue. The settlement only resolves the lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety/Minnesota State Patrol.

Next Up

Great Dane Rescue and Sanctuary

Emaciated Great Danes rescued after being found living in minivan

Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota and Wisconsin posted that two of the dogs are in "rough condition" and "barely hanging on."

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.28.52 AM

2 years since George Floyd's killing, Biden signs exec order on policing

The signing comes on the second anniversary of Floyd's murder by police in south Minneapolis.

earlyseason

Lutsen Mountains owner to buy Michigan ski resort

The Skinner family has operated alpine ski areas in the Midwest for 60 years.

covid

Mayo Clinic, CDC address concerns over monkeypox in the US

The CDC does not currently think there is a significant threat to the general public.

police tape

Charges: Man killed brother, left body in homemade camper for 7 months

James Robert Hess, 48, faces second-degree murder charges for the death of his 52-year-old brother, William Harold Hess Jr.

storm

Minnesota forecast: Hot, humid and severe storm chances

Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard says right now the best chance for storms looks like Sunday/Sunday night.

Thai Cultural Council of Minnesota

Minnesota's biggest Thai festival to be hosted in front of State Capitol

The Thai New Year, or Songkran, is one of the most celebrated holidays in Thailand.

police tape, crime scene

Man dies after being shot in the head in St. Cloud

Investigators believe the suspects fled the scene in a vehicle.

USATSI_18349907

Uvalde school massacre: MN Democrats call for action, Republicans prayers

The tragedy in Texas has sparked different reactions from Minnesota's congressional delegation.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud man fires shot at police in hours-long standoff, surrenders

Shawn Lawrence Jacobs, 37, was arrested just before 4 p.m. Tuesday after he surrendered.

New baby zebra at the Como Zoo.

St. Paul's Como Zoo welcomes new baby zebra

The baby is yet to be named, and the zoo is planning an event for visitors to help with the decision.

Related

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.38.01 PM

Worthington settles police brutality lawsuit for $590,000, agrees to reforms

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who spent five days in the ICU after being arrested.

ambulance

State Patrol: 6-year-old girl hit, killed on Highway 169

The girl was on the highway when she was struck.

State Patrol

State Patrol: Semi driver kills self after being stopped by troopers

The incident happened Wednesday morning in the Miracle Mile shopping center parking lot in Rochester.

Connor and Zachary Kvalvog - CROP

Parents allege school, State Patrol covered up facts in 2015 crash that killed brothers

Zachary and Connor Kvalvog were on their way to a basketball tournament in Wisconsin when they died in a crash with a semi-truck.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

Minneapolis Parks Board

Mayor Frey vetoes Park Board's resolution to end space-sharing agreement with State Patrol

The Park Board on Wednesday voted to end its space-sharing agreement with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Image from iOS (48)

ACLU sues Minneapolis PD over actions against journalists covering protests

The lawsuit says police pepper-sprayed and threatened journalists, among other things.