Yesterday, Libertarian Party candidate for governor Chris Holbrook was in a public park near Lake Calhoun gathering signatures for a petition drive aimed at getting him on the ballot in November when some Minneapolis Park Patrol officers starting giving him a hard time.
The park cop who eventually arrived at the scene operated under the misconception that petitioning in a public park without a permit constitutes some sort of prohibited advertising-related activity. As if that's not bad enough, the officer took umbrage at being filmed and ended up roughly arresting Holbrook.
Here's the video Holbrook filmed of his conversation with the cop:
On Facebook, Holbrook writes, "At the end of [the above] video he tells me he does not want to be videotaped so I simultaneously stop as he lurches towards me, grabs me, wrenches my wrist and the phone out of it, he takes my phone, and cuffs me without any physical resistance."
Here's video of Holbrook's subsequent arrest:
Holbrook characterizes his arrest as "very painful."
"[W]hen I asked the officer to loosen the cuffs they were tightened (hence the screaming)," he writes on Facebook. "Being detained in the back of that hot squad for 20-30 minutes with no air wasn't pleasant either."
As Dan Feidt points out on his blog, the pertinent city ordinance clearly states that "Person[s] engaging in non-commercial door-to-door advocacy shall not be required to register as a solicitor." (Read the ordinance here.) And since filming public officials on public property also isn't illegal, there was no good reason for Holbrook's arrest.
Later in the day, the Park Police Department apologized via this statement:
This afternoon, the Minneapolis Park Police issued a citation to Christopher Holbrook, Libertarian candidate for governor, for violation of Park Board Ordinance PB2-15: Use of Parks, Parkways and Waters for Financial Gain. The incident and citation were reviewed this evening by Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto who determined that the officer erred and misapplied the ordinance. Park Police Chief Ohotto has dismissed the citation. Chief Ohotto directly contacted Mr. Holbrook this evening and apologized on behalf of the Minneapolis Park Police Department for the error in issuing the citation.But Holbrook isn't satisfied with that. From his Facebook page:
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Park Police Department understands and upholds First Amendment and freedom of speech in the parks.
I'm going to refrain from posting the citation I was issued, which the Mpls Park Police Chief just called me to apologize about (not the officer mind you). He said it was an error and dismissed it. I am also not going to post my medical evaluation, and photos, either at this time before I seek counsel. (the 'nerve impingment from tendon trauma' is temporary and I hope to regain feeling in my thumb in the next couple days.) But thanks for all the well wishes and keep the signature drive going!On Facebook, the Libertarian Party writes, "Not only was Chris injured during the arrest, this took 4 petitioners out of the field for the afternoon."
"Averaging 50 signatures per person, per hour - this cost us 600 signatures" the post continues. "With ballot access already difficult, this is a serious matter and interferes with an election."