Man says police beat, tortured him in jail

  • Article by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2008 - 9:40 PM

St. Paul 19-year-old self-described anarchist says he wasn't protesting.

A 19-year-old man arrested for allegedly obstructing justice and assaulting a police officer claimed Thursday he was beaten and "tortured" in the Ramsey County jail.

Elliot Hughes, who also claimed he was not protesting but simply riding his bike on the street as a group of demonstrators was going through downtown St. Paul, said his injuries resulted in his being taken to Regions Hospital.

Hughes, of St. Paul, was among the speakers at a news conference held by the RNC Welcoming Committee, self-described anarchists protesting against the political establishment, especially Republicans holding their national convention in St. Paul.

The allegations came as lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild expressed anger at the level of force police are using.

"I am not surprised," said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota ACLU. "There have been a lot of complaints about police being overly aggressive."

Sheriff Bob Fletcher said that Hughes was "extremely disruptive" and that "it took some force to control him." The sheriff said that the jail has a lot of recording devices and that they would provide evidence of what happened.

Hughes said he was injured after sheriff's personnel at the Ramsey County jail took him to a detention cell and beat him after he and other prisoners were chanting for food.

Hughes, who describes himself as an anarchist but not a member of the RNC Welcoming Committee, was released Wednesday night, according to jail records.

In a separate case, the mother of Keith Smith, a 17-year-old boy, claims her son was beaten by five St. Paul police officers after he marched against the war in Iraq on Monday.

St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said Thursday he could not comment because of the alleged victim's age and the possibility he might seek an internal affairs investigation.

The incident came to light after Melissa Smith-Tourville of Menomonie, Wis., the boy's mother, wrote a letter to the Minnesota Independent complaining about St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington praising his officers for their restraint in dealing with thousands of demonstrators.

The boy was taken to juvenile detention but was then released without charges.

"To our horror, despite his medical needs, he was released from the Juvenile Detention Center, into the darkness of night, alone ... to a city that was unfamiliar to him," Smith-Tourville wrote.

After eventually being found by his father, she wrote, the youth was taken to his hometown hospital where, "they treated his multiple wounds, bruises and scrapes, took pictures ... and after hearing the story, stated that they would record the incident as a criminal assault."

Heron Marquez Estrada • 612-673-4280

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