Al Flowers arrested after altercation with Minneapolis police officers

Booking photo of Al Flowers
Al Flowers, as he appeared in his booking photos provided by the Hennepin County jail on Sunday.
Via Hennepin County jail

Al Flowers, a longtime critic of the Minneapolis Police Department, says officers came to his house early Saturday morning to arrest a family member and ended up beating him.

Police aren't saying much about the incident, but Mayor Betsy Hodges is asking people to give the city more time to sort out what happened.

Flowers said police knocked on his door late Friday to serve a warrant on his teenage daughter. When he asked to see the warrant, the officers would not show it to him. That led to an altercation in which Flowers says he was physically assaulted by police.

Minneapolis Police claim he assaulted an officer with his fists, bruising the officer, according to police documents. Flowers denies that.

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"I assaulted no one. You know I have staples in my head, stitches on my eye. And this is what it is," he said.

After the incident, police first took Flowers to Hennepin County Medical Center. He was later taken into custody at the Hennepin County jail, and then released Sunday afternoon.

Inside his home on Chicago Avenue near Lake Street, Flowers — with the left side of his face puffed and bruised, his left eye bloodshot and a large cut in his scalp — walked a group of reporters into his living room, where he showed what he said was the aftermath of the fight. There were tables and drinking glasses strewn about, a plant knocked over and couch cushions pulled onto the floor.

"They pushed me up against the wall and were choking me," he said.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau addressed questions about the confrontation at a church on North Broadway Avenue on Sunday, joined by Hodges and several community leaders.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau talks about the weekend arrest of Al Flowers as Mayor Betsy Hodges looks on, surrounded by leaders of the city's African-American community.
Peter Cox/MPR News

"We're asking for people to withhold judgment. We're asking for calmness and we're asking for peace," she said.

Harteau declined to answer questions or go into detail about Flowers' arrest, saying it is an ongoing investigation.

Flowers' sister, Lisa Clemons, said both Harteau and Hodges have reached out since the incident.

Flowers' attorney, Bobby Joe Champion, a DFL senator from Minneapolis, said that because Flowers has been publicly critical of the police department in the past, it adds another layer to the case.

"If he has a history of being critical of the police, then police know him. Right? And then police, not all police, but some police officers could have some level of disdain for him," Champion said. "So they look for any opportunity by which to be a little more aggressive with him. Because of things he may have said or expectations that we all would have of police."

Champion said it is unclear if and when Flowers might be charged in court.