Minneapolis activist claims police beat him during arrest; city leaders appeal for calm

Al Flowers has run for mayor in the past and is a frequent critic of the Minneapolis police department.
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Al Flowers, a community activist who has spoken out about increasing violence in north Minneapolis, was arrested early Saturday morning after an altercation with police at this home, according to reports.

Flowers, 55, claims police officers beat him and dragged him outside, causing injuries to his head and ribs. The police report indicates that Flowers assaulted one of the officers, but he denies that, according to FOX 9.

"All I felt was punches" Flowers told WCCO. "Over 30 to 40 times, I mean, just successive punches."

Flowers, who has run for mayor in the past and is a frequent critic of the Minneapolis police department, spoke to FOX 9 and WCCO after his release from jail Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t know what happened that night,” Flowers said, according to WCCO. “I did everything I was supposed to do right. And I still end up with staples in my head, stitches in my eye and my ribs I don’t know what’s going on.”

"I'm not going to quit what I'm doing," Flowers told FOX 9. "I think I'm doing the right thing."

Flowers was booked into the Hennepin County Jail at about 4:30 Saturday morning, after he was treated for his injuries at Hennepin County Medical Center. The police report said he was booked pending charges of assaulting a police officer and obstructing the legal process.

"I assaulted no one," Flowers told FOX 9.

According to Flowers' attorney Bobby Joe Champion and others, officers arrived at Flowers’ home around midnight on Friday to arrest his 16-year-old daughter for violation of her electronic home monitoring device, the Star Tribune reports.

Ron Edwards, a civil rights activist and friend of Flowers, said that Flowers’ daughter was given a two-hour pass to go to a hospital for a medical issue, but that her appointment lasted longer than expected and she didn't return for six hours. The girl had documentation from the hospital, according to the newspaper.

When police arrived, Flowers asked to see the arrest warrant, but officers either did not or could not produce it. Flowers told FOX 9 that's when the officers began assaulting him.

He said officers began hitting him inside his house, then they dragged him outside, slammed him against a police squad car, and threw him inside "like a rag doll."

The police report indicates that Flowers struck officer Christopher Reiter with his fist during the scuffle.

Leaders of the black community spoke out, demanding a meeting with the mayor and chief of police, the Star Tribune said.

“People are really upset,” said Edwards. “They can’t understand how this can happen.”

Flowers’ sister, Lisa Clemons, a former Minneapolis police sergeant, said that she and several community leaders plan to hold a news conference in the next few days to discuss the incident, according to the Star Tribune.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau told reporters Sunday she can't comment on the incident because it's under investigation.

“I am frustrated, I’m sure our entire department is frustrated because I cannot talk about what happened as this case moves through the legal process. For that reason I am asking you and the members of the general public to please withhold judgment,” Harteau said.

She called the incident a "distraction" from her efforts to address the recent uptick in violent crime in north Minneapolis.

Spiritual leaders also made a plea to those in the community.

"To all families, all citizens, we ask for calm and peace," Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple Church in north Minneapolis said, according to KSTP.

Flowers and Clemons, his sister, have filed several lawsuits and complaints against the city of Minneapolis since 1997, MinnPost reported.

The Star Tribune notes that Flowers sued Hennepin County in 2009, claiming deputies planted evidence against him when they charged him with marijuana possession. The charges were eventually dismissed.

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