Already facing 61 lawsuits involving police brutality, the Minneapolis Police Department has been accused once again, this time of using excessive force to shut down a party at a Minneapolis home after receiving multiple noise complaints.
According to local news reports, the MPD entered a three-story Minneapolis home without permission on Aug. 17, 2013 after previously being called out to the home that same night. In order to force the attendees to leave, the police also reportedly began to spray large amounts of pepper spray throughout the home.
The party, which has been described as a small DJ music event, reportedly had about 200 guests, as well as live performances from some local DJs.
When the two MPD officers walked into the house during their second visit to the property, party-goers say the two liberally pepper sprayed and handcuffed one of the party’s organizers, Grant Maryland, who was told he was under arrest.
According to Maryland, the officers ended up writing him a citation for “participating in a noisy assembly.” He said the only other person who was handcuffed at the party was the property owner, but the officers released him without taking him down to the police station.
Talking to a local news outlet, Maryland said his face was still swollen from the pepper spray days later, since the officer sprayed the substance directly into his eye from a point-blank range. Maryland said he also had a bump on his head after police slammed him to the floor, and abrasions on his arms from the handcuffs.
“I’ve always been a huge supporter of Minneapolis police, but I’ve never seen anything like it… just unprovoked aggression from authority,” Mayland said, adding that he’s never been arrested before. “It was by no means a rowdy party with violence, it was just people having a good time drinking some beers.”
Maryland said he thought police targeted him during their second visit to the home because he acted as the party’s spokesman during the police officer’s first visit, but says he doesn’t know why since he never tried to physically resist the officers.
“It was just a power trip, it felt like a power trip to me,” he said.
According to Maryland, the party had no more than 100 attendees, and after the cops came to the home the first time, he made sure to turn down the music and asked those who were outside to come into the three-story home.
The party’s attendees, such as local Minneapolis musician Garrison Dakota Grouse, reiterated Maryland’s claims that the force used by the officers at the party was excessive. “I saw a gross amount of illegal actions by the police take place,” he said. “I was hanging out in the kitchen with some friends just talking and having a few drinks when the cops came into the house with no warrant and were unjustly violent to several people.
“They eventually demanded that everybody had to leave. People respectfully followed police instruction and then without warning the cops maced several of my friends including myself and put an irritant in the air. Everybody was being completely compliant before they did this and the actions taken by the police were completely unreasonable and unjust. I hate that many police officers feel like they are above the law and can do whatever they want just because they have a badge and gun. That just doesn’t seem right to me.”
Another one of the event’s attendees, Dillon Bakke, who also happens to be a videographer, captured the event on video, which has since been published on YouTube. Bakke said that while he has been to a number of house parties that have been broken up before by the MPD, the cops usually handle the situation in a more respectful manner.
Bakke explained that while the music may have been a little loud, none of the party’s attendees are troublemakers. In an email to City Pages, Bakke wrote “We’re just all friends lookin to enjoy a nice summer night. To me its [sic] still so crazy that they would just pepper spray a home… very excessive.”
“We were just enjoying being free humans, you know?” Bakke said. “Something got in their coffee or doughnuts that night.”
He went on to speculate that the cops may have been upset that night since the news had recently broke about the number of allegations of police brutality against the department. While MPD has 61 lawsuits against it, the neighboring city of St. Paul has 19 misconduct lawsuits against it.
Talking to the Star Tribune, Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said for a city as large as Minneapolis, the number of misconduct suits against the MPD wasn’t “extraordinary,” and said the actions of the MPD naturally draw extra scrutiny because it’s the largest city in the state.
“Our police department has over a million contacts per year with members of the public,” she said. “A very few of those interactions result in claims and lawsuits, as with any major metropolitan area around the country.”
Retired Sgt. Al Berryman also commented on the number of police brutality allegations and said the culture of the MPD doesn’t foster police violence. “Cops… go into dangerous situations, into tumultuous situations, and try to make decisions for their safety and for the victim,” he said.
“You have fights and people get hurt and there are broken bones. I do believe cops, like everyone else, make mistakes. You’re excited, you’re scared, you’re nervous and you react, and sometimes you react and wish you could undo it.”
But some, such as Teresa Nelson, legal director for the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union affiliate, believe that police are under the impression they can get away with abusive behavior, and that officers are taught to violate rights and dehumanize minorities.
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