The St. Paul City Attorney’s Office will dismiss cases against people who protested peacefully following George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer and will offer alternatives to traditional prosecution to others.
The office is reviewing nearly 100 cases, including 87 curfew violations, City Attorney Lyndsey Olson said Friday. While some cases involve other crimes, such as property damage, none are arsons, she said.
“The City Attorney’s Office will make charging decisions on a case-by-case basis and proceed with traditional prosecution when deemed necessary,” Olson said. “The approach to review and charging on these cases is not unique — rather, it’s an example of our whole commitment to stewarding just outcomes in prosecution.”
The office makes charging decisions for all cases on an individualized basis and has a restorative justice program for first-time, nonviolent offenders already in place.
The office may give those facing charges the opportunity to participate in the ETHOS program, which would involve talking to people in their neighborhood and developing a plan to remedy the harm caused, Olson said.
“One of the saddest parts of all of this is just how historically unsurprising George Floyd’s murder is,” Mayor Melvin Carter said as he stood alongside Olson at a City Hall news conference Friday afternoon.
“As my children have shared with me, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that people have been as angry as they have been.”
As he has throughout the aftermath of the protests that spread across the Twin Cities in recent weeks, Carter drew a distinction between “those voices of peaceful protest [that] have challenged and renewed our country’s spirit in every single generation” and violence against people and property.
“I fully support City Attorney Olson’s planned approach and appreciate that critical distinction ... between those who sought to build a better future and those who tried to tear us down,” he said.