Occupy MN: Melissa Hill sues Sheriff Richard Stanek over trespassing arrest
Just a week into the Occupy MN demonstrations at Hennepin County Government Plaza, the movement got its first arrest. Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies hauled away Melissa Hill, a well-known local activist and the founder of the anti-Sheriff Richard Stanek Facebook page "Kitten for Sheriff."
While the arrest was an important footnote for the movement's history, it was also a violation of her constitutional rights, according to a new lawsuit filed against Sheriff Stanek, Hennepin County, and the officers involved in the incident.
On October 13, while at an Occupy MN event, Hill was given a notice of trespass by a security officer, barring her from the Government Center plaza, building, parking lot, and other property. According to the lawsuit, no reason was given for the arrest, though it may have had something to do with the political slogans Hill had written on the plaza in chalk.
Two days later, Hill was standing on the sidewalk just outside of the plaza during a tent-building action. She was there as a "legal observer" and was standing far away from the main action of the protest. About an hour into the demonstration, she was approached by Hennepin County security officers and told that she was violating her trespassing order. They were joined soon after by a sheriff's deputy. Watch the arrest go down below:
Attorney Jordan Kushner says that Hill saw Sheriff Stanek watching her from his SUV before she was arrested. He argues that both her original trespass order and arrest were unconstitutional.
"She was arrested and put in jail for no reason but for retaliation by the sheriff for being a political activist," says Kushner.
Hennepin County Sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Kiava says she cannot comment on pending litigation.
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