U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Minneapolis Friday, to speak at a conference on preventing youth violence, and meeting with members of the Somali community.
Holder told about 200 people attending the "Blueprint for Action" conference that the Minneapolis initiative has made progress in helping the city's young people stay out of trouble.
"Over the last five years, the number of young people arrested or even suspected in violent crimes has dropped by more than a half," said Holder. "Assaults are down, and although the homicide rates has fluctuated, and some recent figures underscore how fragile our progress can be, the trend has been in the right direction."
Holder's speech was interrupted several times by activists protesting what they described as attacks on First Amendment rights. They claimed that under Holder's leadership, the FBI has expanded surveillance on Arabs and Muslims, and targeted peace groups.
About 50 people showed up in support of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. Six committee members were subpoenaed to testify last fall in an investigation of material support for terrorism.
One of the protesters, Tracy Molm, talked to Holder after his speech. She said Holder told her they would have to "agree to disagree" on what activities are protected under the First Amendment.
"He can disagree all he wants, but people around the country believe these attacks need to end because they're killing our free speech rights, our ability to question our government, and our ability to speak out," said Molm.
Molm, one of the six who were subpoenaed by the FBI, said law enforcement officials ransacked her home last fall as part of their investigation.