Minnesota police giving Peavey Plaza Occupy-ers drugs as part of impairment study, report says [VIDEO]

An officer drops off a young man downtown after taking him to Richfield and back.EXPAND
An officer drops off a young man downtown after taking him to Richfield and back.

A video report put together by local independent media activists and members of Communities United Against Police Brutality finds that police officers and county deputies have been giving drugs to young people hanging out near Peavey Plaza as part of an impairment study.

One officer who spoke to journalists said he never gave subjects drugs, but numerous young people who spoke on the record said police gave them marijuana, cigarettes, food, and other incentives as compensation for participating.

The report indicates that police patrol downtown Minneapolis looking for impaired people, then drive them to a testing facility in Richfield for examination of their capabilities while intoxicated. But in some cases where no previously impaired people could be found, police seduced prospective participants with drugs. The study has been ongoing since early last month.

One young man who identified himself as Panda said he got "high as fuck" in front of a couple police officers. He said he was walking down the street downtown when an officer told him he smelled like marijuana.

Panda said he was offered weed in exchange for becoming a police informant.EXPAND
Panda said he was offered weed in exchange for becoming a police informant.

"I started walking faster... [but then] he asked me if I wanted to smoke more. I stopped in my tracks, said 'yes,' and then I smoked with a cop," Panda said, adding that the weed given to him by officers was "some of the best shit I've had in a while." He said officers bought him a double cheeseburger at McDonald's on his way back downtown.

Interviewed hours later after he sobered up, Panda said police offered him a quarter-ounce bag of marijuana if he'd become a police informant and snitch on the activities of fellow Occupy protestors.

Another young man said officers had a bowl of marijuana already packed and ready to smoke when he was picked up downtown. After taking part in the study and being dropped off downtown by police, the man was visibly intoxicated. He dangerously climbed to the top of a large sign near Peavey Plaza sitting 15 feet above the sidewalk, swinging his arms and legs.

This young man was dangerously stoned after being dropped off downtown by police.EXPAND
This young man was dangerously stoned after being dropped off downtown by police.

The man said that on another occasion, officers expressed disappointment that he was only high on weed. Officers told him they were "looking for something more harder (sic), someone to do meth or coke or something. I've never told a cop this before, but I said 'fuck you, I don't touch that,'" the man said.

According to the reporters who put together the video, the so-called Drug Recognition Expert program, run by the Minnesota State Patrol, has no review board or independent oversight. Study participants reported that no ambulances or EMTs were on site at the Richfield MnDOT facility near the airport where they were taken. The video suggests participating officers typically come from areas outside the metro core like Dakota, Chisago, and Filmore Counties. 

Gordon said he was called Tuesday night by a "concerned mother who was very upset because her son had been given free drugs by a police officer when he went out to participate in what he thought would be social action in a public plaza to help improve his community and country."

"She felt that it was the police's responsibility to help keep her son safe and protect him from harm... She recalled how often those wishing to profit from the sale of drugs often used free samples to help get people 'hooked' and almost could not believe that here it was the police giving her son a sample with apparent total disregard for his welfare," Gordon wrote.

He concluded: "If the Minneapolis Police are involved in this program I will push that our participation be suspended immediately and that we discontinue all involvement in it in the future."

Michele Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said "I think most people would be very surprised to have our tax dollars used to get people high."

Here's the video report:

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