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Minneapolis prosecutor drops charges against American Indian activist

  • September 25, 2013 - 11:06 PM

Minneapolis prosecutors have dropped misdemeanor trespassing charges against American Indian activist Clyde Bellecourt, one week after his trial ended with a hung jury.

“We have decided it is not a good use of our resources to try it a second time,” City Attorney Susan Segal said in a statement. The statement added that several attempts were made to resolve the case with Bellecourt before his trial on the misdemeanor charge stemming from his Christmas Eve arrest at the IDS Center’s Crystal Court.

Bellecourt’s retrial was originally scheduled for Jan. 7 after a six-member jury deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial for the 77-year-old American Indian Movement leader. His attorney, Larry Leventhal, said last week that there was “absolutely nothing to be gained by prosecuting Mr. Bellecourt once again but to further harass him.”

Bellecourt was at the IDS the day of his arrest to show support for a Canadian group’s treaty rights demonstration and to hand out fliers. He testified that he refused a demand by police to disperse the group because he wasn’t involved in the protest. He then went upstairs to get a cup of coffee and a roll at Starbucks. By the time he returned downstairs, the demonstration was over.

He was on a bench drinking coffee when police again approached him and told him to leave. Bellecourt said he would leave as soon as he finished his coffee. Ordered once again to leave, Bellecourt claimed he got up and was arrested. Bellecourt was among the founders in 1969 of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement.

ABBY SIMONS

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