A free press is foundational to our democracy, and the ability of journalists to cover civil unrest in our communities must be protected and encouraged. The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) has and will continue to respect the rights of the media to cover protest activity.
During recent enforcement actions in Brooklyn Center, troopers checked and photographed journalists and their credentials and driver's licenses at the scene in order to expedite the identification process. Journalists were then allowed to continue reporting. This process was implemented in response to media concerns expressed last year about the time it took to identify and release journalists.
Following feedback from media, and in light of a recent temporary restraining order (TRO) filed in federal court, MSP will not photograph journalists or their credentials. However, troopers will continue to check credentials so media will not be detained any longer than is necessary.
In addition, MSP will no longer include messaging at the scene advising media where they can go to safely cover events.
While journalists have been detained and released during enforcement actions after providing credentials, no journalists have been arrested.
In light of the TRO, the MSP has provided this guidance, and the TRO, to its troopers. MSP has also provided this information to other law enforcement agencies, especially those who are part of the Operation Safety Net unified command:
MSP is 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. Members of the press must be treated as such. This is the primary change that the Judge ordered in how we have been interacting with the press.
MSP is 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 (not simply violating a dispersal order, which doesn't apply to them).
MSP is prohibited from using chemical spray against someone we know or have reason to know is a member of the media.
MSP is prohibited from 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.
MSP is not prohibited from conducting a mass arrest, should that become necessary. If press are present in an area where a mass arrest is being conducted, we may order press to leave that area and may escort them from the area without threatening/using physical force.
The MSP has not and will not target media for doing the important work of showing those who are exercising their first amendment rights to express themselves, or those who are engaged in the violent, illegal activity law enforcement is trying to prevent. Any journalist or member of the public is encouraged to contact the DPS Internal Affairs/Affirmative Action division to file a complaint if they believe a trooper has engaged in misconduct:
Department of Public Safety/State Patrol
Internal Affairs/Affirmative Action
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 530
St. Paul, MN 55101-5530