National Guard and Minnesota state police protect the Minnesota statehouse in St Paul, Minn. Protests continued after George Floyd's death. He was restrained by Minneapolis police officers May 25, and died shortly thereafter. AP Photo/Julio Cortez
In June 2020, the ACLU of Minnesota filed suit on behalf of journalists who were attacked and targeted at protests.
Witnesses have stated that state troopers knew about pending litigation against their actions when they purge communications.
For using force against journalists or arresting them, no trooper was disciplined.
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According to court documents, Major Joseph Dwyer of Minnesota State Patrol testified that the "vast majority" of agency employees had manually deleted their text and email messages after they were served with a lawsuit regarding their response to protests about George Floyd's May 2020 death.
Dwyer was present at the protests as the commander of the troopers' mobile team response team. He is also one of many witnesses in the class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota in June 2020. It concerns journalists who were attacked and targeted while covering the protests.
Last week, the US District Judge Wilhelmina Wright gave a briefing on the case.
She said that Troopers were told to not use force reports during protests or were told not to. "It is nearly impossible to track the State Patrol’s behavior because there are no contemporaneous communications or documentation, which seems to be deliberate."
Dwyer stated that he knew of the current litigation and that he and his fellow troopers had purged their text messages and e-mail accounts. According to court documents, he also stated that not one use of force report regarding the protests was filed.
John Harrington, Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety, testified that no trooper was disciplined for using force against or arresting a journalist. Wright stated that virtually nothing was done to hold any person accountable for misconduct during protests.
Witnesses also confirmed that Wright was wrongly informed by State Troopers that they had fabricated false reports in order to justify the arrest, assault and use of lesser-lethal weapons against journalists. They ignored the governor's exempt from curfew restrictions for journalists.
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