Ramsey courts hear first cases from RNC arrests

Fletcher points to pictures of RNC protesters
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher points to a photograph of two men throwing sandbags from a freeway overpass in downtown St. Paul. Fletcher said one of the bags struck a bus carrying RNC delegates. No one was hurt.
MPR Photo/Laura Yuen

Fifteen individuals who were charged during the Republican National Convention are scheduled to go to trial Monday in Ramsey County.

The charges range from unlawful assembly to third-degree riot. All 15 defendants were arrested on the first day of the convention.

So far, the St. Paul City Attorney's office has dealt with about 200 of the 650 RNC related arrests referred to its office. City Attorney John Choi said many of the remaining cases resulted from mass arrests on the fourth day of the convention.

Choi said mass arrests are generally much more difficult to prosecute.

"I will be the first to tell you, on Thursday night on the bridge, there were people who were caught up in that and who shouldn't have been arrested, who may have been literally walking down the street. That could have happened.... And if that were the case, how do you prove otherwise?"

Activists are calling on the city to dismiss the charges, saying the arrests were used to squelch free speech.

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