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MN 646 demand ‘Drop the charges’

By Sam Martinez |
July 23, 2021
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Monique Cullars Doty speaking at press conference.
Monique Cullars Doty speaking at press conference. (Brad Sigal)

Minneapolis, MN - On July 22, 50 people gathered outside Minneapolis City Hall for a press conference in defense of the 646-plus people who were arrested on November 4, 2020. They demanded City Attorney Jim Rowder and other prosecutors drop the charges against the 646, and that the charges be dropped against all protesters since the murder of George Floyd last summer.

On November 4, the day after the elections, over 1000 protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis to demand a fair presidential election and justice for Black lives lost to police brutality. For part of the march, the crowd embarked on what would have been a six-block march, ten-minute march on eastbound Interstate 94. They were prevented from leaving the highway by a combination of heavily-armed police forces, including the National Guard.

The cops held protesters on the highway for six hours and stopped traffic in all lanes on both directions of the interstate. The community members were then arrested, piled into buses and released at random locations across the metro area, leaving minors stranded as far away as the Mall of America in the city of Bloomington. Concerned bystanders overlooking the freeway were also arrested, and many were brutalized by police for simply watching the injustice taking place. The police action was the state’s largest mass arrest in recent state history.

Speakers at the July 22 press conference included the Twin Cities Coalition Justice for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J), Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Minnesota Workers United, the Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society - University of Minnesota, CAIR, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter-MN. Those groups, along with other organizations, answered the National Alliance Against Political Repression’s November call to action to demand a people’s agenda during the Biden regime and to not allow Trump to steal an election.

Loretta VanPelt, of TCC4J said, “The racist hypocrisy of the city of Minneapolis, and state of Minnesota is fully exposed when charges can be dropped against Bogdan Vechirko for driving a semi into protesters on the freeway. Meanwhile, prosecution persists for protesting. If that’s the case, then charges can be dropped against protesters on a highway who exercised their First Amendment rights and defended the right to vote and were right about Trump trying to steal an election. We demand the charges be dropped for the 646-plus and all other political prisoners! We demand community control of the police so that racist repression of democratic rights doesn’t occur again.”

Over 230 Black people across the U.S. have been killed by police since George Floyd was tortured and murdered by Derek Chauvin. All the while, the white supremacist right wing continues to try to revive Trump’s regime - an action that the November protest was called to prevent.

The speakers also demanded that charges be dropped from all protesters arrested for participating in the George Floyd Uprising. If the community had not risen up to demand justice for George Floyd, Derek Chauvin would likely be free today, the organizers said. Yet hundreds of community members are facing charges ranging from petty misdemeanors to felonies for standing up for basic rights.

Besides City Attorney Jim Rowder, activists placed the demand to “Drop the charges” on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Governor Tim Walz. Most of those arrested are still waiting on court dates.

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