Union leader’s trial set for November in protest case

Than Tibbetts

Phyllis Walker will have her day in court, much to her chagrin.

Walker is charged with obstructing the legal process during the May 4 General College protest in and outside of Morrill Hall. A jury trial is now scheduled for Nov. 8.

Walker is the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, which represents about 1,600 clerical workers at the University.

Walker and her attorney, Douglas Olson of the Rider Bennett law firm, had filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing a lack of probable cause.

At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Catherine Anderson disagreed, saying probable cause is a low threshold, and denied the motion. Assistant city attorney John Manning will now argue the case before a jury in November.

Olson said he had hoped the judge would do the “honorable thing” and dismiss the case. Walker did not comment on the case after the hearing.

Manning alleges that Walker’s actions in the Northrop and Church Street parking garages during the May 4 General College protests constitute obstruction.

The suit claims that Walker and three other people had a confrontation with a University police officer at approximately 6 p.m., the time when sit-in protesters were being arrested and moved to Hennepin County booking vehicles. The officer testified Walker’s actions interfered with his duty as a police officer.

Walker and her attorney contended that the state’s definition of obstruction does not apply to the incident.

In a sign of solidarity, the General College Truth Movement is holding a news conference at noon today on the steps of Morrill Hall to address the “University’s intense reaction” to the sit-in. Members of AFSCME and the five University students facing charges in relation to the sit-in will also attend