The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of journalists who have been targeted and attacked while covering the protests that began after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Minnesota District, seeks a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to stop law enforcement from attacking and targeting journalists, now and in the future. It names 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 as defendants. The lead plaintiff is journalist Jared Goyette, who, according to the ACLU, was documenting protesters’ attempts to shield and help an injured black man when police fired a projectile at his face.
Representatives for the police department and union, Department of Public Safety and state patrol did not immediately return a request for comment. Erik Nilsson, an attorney for the city, said in a statement to TheWrap, “We will review the allegations and take them seriously. We continue to support the First Amendment rights of everyone in Minneapolis.”
“Law enforcement is using violence and threats to deter the media from vigorously reporting on demonstrations and the conduct of police in public places,” said ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson in a statement. “We depend on a free press to hold the police and government accountable for its actions, especially at a time like this when police have brutally murdered one of our community members, and we must ensure that justice is done. Our community, especially people of color, already have a hard time trusting police and government. Targeting journalists erodes that public trust even further.”
The lawsuit, reviewed by TheWrap, states that Minneapolis police have a history of unconstitutional actions against journalists and also takes on government leadership: “Ostensible leaders of our law enforcement agencies have been unable to curb this unlawful violence. Governor Walz and others have repeatedly issued statements apologizing for the violence against reporters and the unlawful arrests. But these statements, and whatever behind-the-scenes actions have accompanied them, have proven toothless.”
Gov. Tim Walz announced last week he personally called CNN president Jeff Zucker to apologize after correspondent Omar Jimenez and his field production team were arrested covering unrest on-air in Minneapolis.