Police arrest four, suspect link to genetics protests

by Robert Koch

Several students arrested on lurking charges in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood early Saturday morning are free, despite reportedly refusing to sign a conditional release form imposed during the International Society for Animal Genetics conference.
Minneapolis police arrested two men and two women after responding to a report of gunshots fired at 400 8th Ave. S.E. shortly after 3 a.m., according to the report.
Although the arrests appeared unrelated to the call, Sgt. Nancy Murphy said officers noted suspicious activity and felt the pedestrians were “lurking to commit a crime in relation to the protests.”
Police reportedly found them carrying rappelling equipment.
Arrestee Kate Petersen said she and the others plan to attend the protests, but added Saturday’s incident was not protest-related.
“We’re all climbers,” said the University sophomore. “We were going down to the river to try to find some rocks to climb on — we each had a harness and a rope.”
Petersen said police arrested them after she asked for an officer’s badge number. Later, at the jail, authorities learned they were activists and asked them to sign the release form, she added.
Petersen said she and another woman were released Saturday. The two men were set free Sunday after posting bail. Petersen said none signed the form.
Arrestee Jason Nord, a University of Nebraska student, said he was in town to visit friends and attend the protests.
“I think [the police] were guessing that we were activists, just judging off of the way that we were dressed,” Nord said.
The release form, approved by a Hennepin County judge and in effect July 18-28, asks persons arrested in connection with the genetics conference to agree not to enter the downtown or the University East or West Bank areas.
Boundaries for the East Bank extend from Southeast 11th to 25th avenues.
Arrestees must also refrain from rioting, trespassing, obstructing the legal process, damaging property, assembling unlawfully, concealing their identities, using sound amplifying equipment or assaulting others.
Jordan Kushner, a Minneapolis civil rights attorney, questioned the constitutionality of both the lurking charge and of the release form.
“It’s a bogus charge because the person isn’t doing anything wrong, and [police] have no information that the person is breaking the law,” Kushner said.
Kushner added the release form would prevent arrestees living in the downtown and University areas from returning to their homes.

Robert Koch covers police and courts and welcomes comments at [email protected].