Bellecourt says he will fight 'illegal' arrest

Longtime American Indian activist Clyde Bellecourt said he will fight any possible charges after being arrested earlier this week at a protest.

Bellecourt was participating in a protest on Monday that someone else had organized in support of a tribal group in Canada when police arrested him at the IDS Center's Crystal Court, said Larry Leventhal, Bellecourt's attorney.

Bellecourt was drinking coffee at a table when he was arrested, Leventhal said, citing a cellphone video. The video also shows how Bellecourt refused to cooperate with what he saw as an illegal arrest, Leventhal said. Bellecourt was put on a gurney and taken to the Hennepin County jail by ambulance.

Leventhal said Bellecourt was the only person arrested, and he said the arrest is suspicious.

"It is rather shocking that someone of Clyde Bellecourt's stature — he's been involved in Indian affairs for many years — will be singled out that way. No one else was arrested. He was just sitting there watching," he said, adding that the officers who arrested him had assumed Bellecourt had organized the protest.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Stephen McCarty said Bellecourt was one of about 70 people who participated in the protest on private property. Bellecourt was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing, he said.

"He didn't leave. Everyone else left," McCarty said.

McCarty said if Bellecourt has any complaints about his arrest, the department's internal affairs unit can investigate.

Leventhal persuaded a judge to release Bellecourt later Tuesday, before any formal charges were filed. He is still waiting to hear if the city attorney's office will prosecute Bellecourt.

Bellecourt has been arrested many times in the past, but Leventhal said the last time was seven or eight years ago. Leventhal said police had no probable cause to arrest Bellecourt.

"It was certainly not proper law enforcement," he said.

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