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RNC-related arrests slowly progress through courts

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Man arrested
This man was taken into custody at 5th and Wacouta Streets after trying to slip through a line of mounted police on the second day of the Republican National Convention.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Attorneys representing people arrested during the Republican National Convention say it could take months for their cases to work their way through the legal system.

Lawyers and advocates met Sunday to provide arrestees with information on their legal options.

Bob Kolstad is a criminal defense lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing several people arrested during the RNC.

He said the courts will need to sort through cases to separate people who were mistakenly arrested for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech from those who committed crimes.

"People are aware that they have the right to protest and to express themselves so I'm sure that they will assert those rights in court and hopefully at least in some of the cases the prosecutors will agree with that position and just dismiss some of the cases," Kolstad said.

Police arrested more than 800 people during the RNC. Most were charged with misdemeanors and the majority have been released.

The maximum penalty for misdemeanors is 90 days in jail. The St. Paul City Council will hold a hearing on September 24 to gather public testimony on the impact of the Republican National Convention.