ACLU Sues St. Paul and Minneapolis For Release Of Educational Materials Seized During Raids

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
September 4, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU of Minnesota
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Literature And Pamphlets Are Protected By The First Amendment


ST. PAUL – The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in federal court late last night calling for the release of literature and educational materials that were illegally seized by police during mass raids on private homes and a gather place earlier this week. The raids were part of what appears to be a massive government crackdown on free speech during the Republican National Convention.

“Pamphlets and buttons are constitutionally-protected forms of free speech and the police have no business going around confiscating them from innocent people,” said Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Minnesota. “It is greatly disturbing if and when the materials are released, it will be too late for their owners to distribute them at the convention.”

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of six individuals who own the confiscated material, which includes First Amendment-protected literature, buttons, pamphlets, leaflets and books. None of those individuals have been arrested or charged with any crime. The complaint charges that the materials were seized in an effort to “chill First Amendment rights to distribute literature, to disseminate ideas, to peaceably assemble, and to redress grievances – all protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments” of the Constitution.

“Seizing boxes and boxes of literature is another example of the wide-reaching government assault on free speech throughout the convention,” said Samuelson. “This kind of law enforcement abuse of power has no place in a democracy.”

The complaint was filed against the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Ramsey County, Ramsey County Sheriff Robert Fletcher, three deputies of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, and unnamed St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers.

Attorneys on the case are Terri Nelson, legal counsel with the ACLU of MN; ACLU volunteer lawyers Al Goins and Rick Petry; and Geneva Finn of the National Lawyers Guild.

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