Appeals Court Rules Against GOP Convention Lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court Friday said police acted reasonably as it upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by 32 people who say their constitutional rights were violated when they were arrested during a protest outside the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Their lawsuit named the city of St. Paul and six police officers. The plaintiffs alleged that police violated their rights to free speech and to be free from unreasonable seizure. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson dismissed the case in 2010.

On Friday, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against the plaintiffs. A three-judge panel concluded that police acted reasonably in response to unlawful conduct when they detained around 400 people in a park off Shepard Road near downtown St. Paul during a protest on the opening day of the convention, releasing most of them shortly afterward but booking about 160.

Some of the 32 defendants were protesters. Others said they were legal observers, medics, media and innocent bystanders who got caught up in the sweep when police herded protesters into the park. Seven were among those who were soon released, while 25 were taken into custody. All were released within 72 hours and all charges against them were eventually dismissed, the appeals court noted.

The panel said the outnumbered officers faced a “precarious situation” when they were confronted by dozens of protesters at Shepard Road and Jackson Street the afternoon of Sept. 1, 2008.

The ruling said video footage showed that many of the protesters wore gas masks and other facial coverings, and several could be heard shouting profanities and taunting the police. Then part of the group, shielding itself behind two large signs, advanced on officers in an apparent but unsuccessful attempt to break through the police line to get into downtown St. Paul, which had been sealed off because of disturbances earlier in the day. The ruling said some protesters also blocked Shepard Road, which had been designated for use by emergency vehicles and first lady Laura Bush’s motorcade.

So it was reasonable, the ruling said, for the officers to fire stinger balls and use chemical irritant spray to push the crowd back to a park about a half mile to the west, where police attempted to sort out who had been among the protesters at the intersection. It said the mass arrests at the park were also reasonable under the circumstances.

An attorney for the plaintiffs, David Shulman, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling.

More than 800 people were arrested during the four-day convention. The vast majority had their cases dismissed or were never charged.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Perry Mason

    Of course their rights were violated. So what, it happens everyday.

  • Judge Lynch

    Constitutional rights are a joke, unless you are in the 1% who can afford the legal fees, and then there’s no guarantee that you will win your case…

  • good old hippi beat down

    I wish I could have seen all those foolish protesters getting rerrer sprayed that would have made my day my year how funny they deserved it acting like fools good for the cops I just wish they would have pulled out the knight sticks.

  • Jill

    It would be nice to have the old stockcades in the public square for these idiots and the occupy riff raff.

    • good old hippi beat down

      I think the hippies should be castrated

      • Mom says.....

        ….honey, put away your Carpenter’s eight track because Mannix will be one in five minutes.

  • Nate

    Just a bunch of out of state hippies lengthening my commute home from work and throwing garbage all over the place. I think my rights to be home in time for dinner and to not have to take detours because of idiots were violated.

  • Murph

    You can’t count on the GOP to follow the Consitution.Since they either have never read it,can’t understand it ,or most likely think they have enough money behind them to keep desecrating it with immunity! They just can’t get it thru their heads that we know their game and will play our hand in the Presidential election! Having their name on any ballot is a lost cause.They are sworn to Norquist,not the people they were elected to make decisions for,Exxon is not a person! It is a pollution on the land,it’s air ,it’s water and it’s people! The Party of NO !,has to GO!.

    • sick of people's BS

      Hey Murph,
      That showed in the last election didn’t it. Why don’t you wait and see the outcome before you open your BIG mouth. Oh my caps work to. :)

    • Rewind

      Murph said….”There is absolutely no place in America for the Republican Party! They should all be hung by their turkey necks until all the oil runs out of them and their disgusting cadavers.I have more empathy for an ant and if you look inside yourselves,so do you!”

      So yes, we know all about your hatred for the GOP.

    • redneck purist

      Why don’t you have a high school graduate proof read your posts? Then you won’t end up looking like a complete illiterate? You must have been in the can smoking dope when teacher covered run-on sentences and commas.

      • Murph

        You seem to have a lot of help from CBS in avoiding my reply/Are you an employee?

      • Apple Boy

        And you must have been erasing chalkboards for the teacher.

  • Murph

    For the third time,I will guess you are looking forward to a pension from a company whose plan is to declare bankruptcy after so many people start collecting their pensions! You among many more did not take a civil service test,probably because of how limited your chances of success would be as a second grade graduate.So now you vote republican and cry and moan a lot and make your situation even worse with your votes.Good luck my friend and all the other morons like you! Cry baby cry!

  • Kevin D

    HA!! Another example of activist judges! Oh wait. Sorry. They’re only activist judges if they don’t do what the GOP wants. These are OK I guess. They can keep their jobs. It all gets so confusing.

  • Murph

    If only the GOP had a brain,it might be a real threat to Democracy.As it stands they are mostly despised little ferrets who continue to somehow hypnotize the super religious,and utterly destitute hillbilly voters of the south! All the while profiting big oil,big business and big butt heads ,with big bank accounts! Aside from that they might seem a tiny bit normal..,..well,naw not really!

    • Rewind

      Your hatred is well know! As you stated: There is absolutely no place in America for the Republican Party! They should all be hung by their turkey necks until all the oil runs out of them and their disgusting cadavers.I have more empathy for an ant and if you look inside yourselves,so do you!”

      While you claim the GOP are the haters, the bigots of this country, the mindless, despised little ferrets, destitute hillbilly, etc., etc,…. are you totally blind to what you write? From my experience, when a child doesn’t get their way, they cry, scream, throw a temper tantrum, resort to name calling, etc., etc. How are you any different than a grown up version of that?

      • sick of people's BS

        Well said REWIND

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