Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-St. Paul) and two of her staff members met for more than 90 minutes this morning with representatives of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and others speaking on behalf of protestors detained and arrested during this week’s Republican National Convention.
During the meeting, McCollum declared that since she played a pivotal role in securing some $50 million for the Twin Cities to help defray the cost of the RNC, including for security, she feels it is her obligation to question how and why the money was spent, in particular for a law enforcement response that many, including the Lawyers Guild, feel has violated the civil and Constitutional rights of protestors.
“Betty is the first public official we’ve met with since this crackdown began who has actually listened,” said Gena Berglund, an attorney who has been active in the Lawyers Guild’s efforts to protect the First Amendment rights of RNC protestors. Berglund said the NLG’s request to meet with Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who has been at the center of controversy over alleged police misconduct, or members of his staff was “turned down flat.” The NLG was able to meet this week with a staff person in St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s office, but said Berglund, “That meeting went nowhere. They are not interested in listening to us.”
“At this point, what we should be demanding is that there be an investigation at every level – state, city, country, and federal – into what has happened this past week. It has been a legal outrage and we, as citizens and taxpayers, have the right to hold all officials responsible for law enforcement at the RNC accountable for their actions,” Berglund said.