Occupy protesters in downtown Mpls. allege police brutality

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2012 - 6:34 AM

Weekend arrests are followed by allegations of police misconduct.

Occupy movement activists are vowing to return in numbers to downtown Minneapolis Monday after a short-lived weekend resurgence that led to a dozen arrests on misdemeanor offenses and allegations of police brutality, including one from a TV cameraman.

The 12 protesters were booked late Saturday for allegedly blocking traffic and for public nuisance offenses.

By daybreak Sunday, activists had bailed out their comrades, and by Sunday afternoon they had plans in place to rally at 1:30 p.m. Monday on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center. A few were gathered Sunday night at Peavey Plaza at Nicollet Mall and 11th Street in Minneapolis, near Orchestra Hall.

At one point late Saturday, not long before the arrests, protesters carrying tents "momentarily blocked" an ambulance on an emergency run downtown, said police spokesman Sgt. Steve McCarty, adding that the blockage didn't appear intentional.

Police earlier had asked the activists to dismantle their tents at Peavey Plaza, saying they violated a city public nuisance ordinance.

Activists chanting through bullhorns marched downtown carrying tents and a canopy, blocking streets and intersections, police said.

Osha Karow, 23, of Minneapolis, said he's alleging brutality because a mounted officer used his horse's muzzle to push him back.

Karow said he was riding his bicycle at the front of the group on Nicollet Mall when officers blocked the road. Police ordered protesters onto sidewalks, many of them coming from a second encampment in Loring Park.

Karow said he followed police orders to move to the sidewalk, but a mounted officer directed his horse to push Karow's chest with its muzzle.

McCarty said mounted officers are trained to use a horse's muzzle to nudge people in the chest, moving them back if they won't disperse.

Also Sunday, KSTP-TV said one of its photographers was videotaping the arrests when an officer shoved his camera, knocking it to the ground and slightly injuring the cameraman. Police said they're investigating that incident.

Photographer Chad Nelson was checked by a physician on Sunday for a sore shoulder and neck, said his news director, Lindsay Radford, adding that his camera was damaged. KSTP news leaders will speak with police about the incident and will support Nelson if he chooses to file a complaint against the officer, Radford said.

Activists posted links to videos of some arrests and the incident involving the KSTP photographer at tiny.cc/mrqgcw.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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