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Police vow not to detain journalists covering Daunte Wright protests

Police vow not to detain journalists covering Daunte Wright protests
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The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) has vowed to no longer arrest, threaten or use physical force against reporters covering the Duante Wright protests in Brooklyn Center after a number of journalists said they were harassed by law enforcement last week amid the demonstrations. 

The law enforcement agency said in a statement this weekend that officers are “prohibited from arresting, threatening to arrest, or threatening/using physical force against someone we know or have reason to know is a member of the media unless they are suspected of a separate crime.”

The agency also said officers won’t be using “using chemical spray against someone we know or have reason to know is a member of the media” or “seizing equipment from or ordering someone to stop recording or observing who we know or have reason to know is a member of the media.”

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The statement comes after a temporary restraining order was recently granted by a federal judge in the state that barred law enforcement from arresting or using physical force against journalists who cover the protests. 

Journalists had alleged in court that they were “directed by law enforcement to vacate the protest area, physically grabbed, struck by less-lethal projectiles and rubber bullets, and pepper sprayed.” 

While journalists covering the protests have not been required to adhere to local curfews, they were previously required to leave certain areas once a dispersal order was issued. But journalists are no longer required to do so under the temporary order granted by U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright.

In its statement this weekend, the MSP said officers are “prohibited from enforcing general dispersal orders against press.” 

“Members of the press are exempted from general dispersal orders and they have a right to be present to document protest and law enforcement activity,” the agency continued.

“This is the primary change that the Judge ordered in how we have been interacting with the press,” it added.

Though the agency said it not “prohibited from conducting a mass arrest, should that become necessary,” it also said that if press are present in an area where police are conducting a mass arrest, police “may order press to leave that area and may escort them from the area without threatening” or using physical force.

Wright was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center. The officer, who authorities said meant to use her Taser, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in his killing.