Police pushed back protesters as Donald Trump's motorcade left a fundraiser at the Minneapolis Convention Center. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune)
Minneapolis police officials on Monday denied charges that their officers were ordered to "stand down" during protests last week outside a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that produced a few tense moments, but no arrests.
Police didn’t report any serious injuries or property damage at the private function at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday night, which was attended by dozens of wealthy Trump donors. Tickets ran from $1,000 per person to 100,000 per couple.
Trump, on his first trip to the state since sewing up the GOP nomination, did not make a public appearance.
The event was peaceful except for a few tense moments toward the end of the night, officials said, when a small contingent of protesters grew unruly.
Several Trump supporters were spit on or harassed as they returned to their cars, with one attendee, a 75-year-old Orono man who was walking with family and friends, telling police that he was accosted and robbed by a large group of men, authorities said. Another man said he was escorting four elderly women out of the convention center when someone ripped some “items” from his hand and pushed him to the ground, while several of the women were sprayed with paint, an incident report said.
Video of several encounters between the protesters and Trump backers surfaced on social media over the weekend, prompting an outcry from conservative groups and leading to allegations that officers were ordered to “stand down,” instead of arresting the perpetrators.
On Monday, department officials denied that such an order went out.
“Any rumors or reports that officers were told to ‘stand down’ are false,” police spokesman Corey Schmidt said in a news release released Monday afternoon.
He pointed out that helmet-clad Minneapolis police officers on horseback, bicycles and on foot provided escorts for attendees leaving the event.
“(W)e understand there were some attendees who left without escorts who were the subject of intimidation and abuse,” Schmidt said. “The MPD is currently looking at video from some of these incidents.”
He said that while no arrests were made, police were still investigating several of the reported incidents. Police are also following up on a damage to property report after someone spray-painted “graffiti” on the building itself, Schmidt said.