Five arrested after Dinkytown protest Monday night

At least two were charged with misdemeanors for unlawful assembly.

Protesters cheer as SWAT officers leave the intersection of Southeast 4th Street and 15th Avenue Southeast just after 8 p.m. on Monday, June 1. Several people were arrested during a mostly student-led demonstration halting traffic at the intersection.

Jack Rodgers

Protesters cheer as SWAT officers leave the intersection of Southeast 4th Street and 15th Avenue Southeast just after 8 p.m. on Monday, June 1. Several people were arrested during a mostly student-led demonstration halting traffic at the intersection.

Audrey Kennedy

Five people were arrested in Dinkytown Monday night after law enforcement attempted to break up a peaceful protest blocking Fourth Street Southeast. 

More than 50 officers and over a dozen law enforcement vehicles, including several SWAT cars, arrived at 7:50 p.m. and demanded a large group of protesters clear the intersection of Fourth Street Southeast and 15th Avenue. After protest organizer Rebecca Jacobson spoke with officers, they agreed to allow the protest to continue until the planned end time of 8 p.m. but would then arrest anyone who had not moved to the sidewalk. 

But, at 8 p.m., 10-15 protestors were in the middle of the street — mere inches from police officers. When arrests began, they attempted to run for the sidewalk as fellow protestors pulled them away from police. 

University of Minnesota third-year student Zach Mundt was among those arrested. After staying in the street until 8 p.m., he headed toward the sidewalk and stopped to grab a megaphone on the ground when an Anoka County officer grabbed him. 

It was the first Dinkytown protest he had attended. As his hands were zip-tied behind his back, he called out his mom’s phone number to those on the sidelines. 

“We had a lot of support from the community. I think if a cop or two cops had come and saw us, they would have said, ‘Okay, carry on.’ But instead, they brought a ton of armored cars. I think the goal was to make us fear them,” Mundt said. “Instead of ‘protect and serve,’ it feels like ‘enforce and use force.’”

Mundt and the others were released at around 9:15 that same night. At least two, including Mundt, were charged with misdemeanors for unlawful assembly. Law enforcement did not use rubber bullets or tear gas against demonstrators during the arrests.

“I’m really angry, I’m really sad, I’m really disappointed that our peaceful protest was shut down. I take personal accountability for [the arrests],” Jacobson said in a statement posted on Facebook that night. 

Earlier on Monday night, a truck had driven through the crowd who were all seated on the crosswalk at the time. There were no injuries, though a water bottle and purse were damaged. 

Monday was the fourth night the group has blocked the intersection to protest the killing of George Floyd and advocate to keep police brutality and racial injustice off the University of Minnesota campus. 

Each protest lasted for hours. Demonstrators held signs related to Black Lives Matter and chanted, “No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!” among other things. The majority of those passing through Dinkytown in their cars were supportive, honking and cheering as they went around the group. 

With the exception of Tuesday’s protest, which was canceled due to weather conditions, the group will continue to protest in the same spot for four more nights — one for every minute former officer Derek Chauvin had a knee on Floyd’s neck, Jacobson said.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m really tired. But people of color are always tired, and they always feel the weight of the world crushing down on their necks, just like George Floyd did,” Jacobson said. “Injustice doesn’t rest, so we’re not going to rest.”

Mundt, who has since attended the sit-in at the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, said he doesn’t regret protesting. He plans on coming to another Dinkytown demonstration — though next time, he’ll probably move to the sidewalk. 

“You do what you can, you do what’s right and if something like that happens, it’s part of being an ally,” he said. “It’s just too bad that it was forced to end this way.”