As a progressive DFL'er I have serious issues with John Choi being our endorsed candidate. As others have said more eloquently than I, while Mayor Coleman has admitted mistakes were made during the RNC. Choi has yet to say that the police did anything wrong during the RNC and still stands by the mass arrests and detentions.
My story illustrates how misguided the policies of the Saint Paul City Attorneys Office are under John Choi. During the RNC I was a legal observer before, during and after the convention. I witnessed 3 of the 5 raids conducted by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office and the Saint Paul Police at the Convergence Center, Mike Whalen's house on Iglehart Avenue and one of the three homes raided Saturday morning in Minneapolis.
On Saturday afternoon the Highway Patrol seized a privately owned bus, owned by StarHawk and PermaCulture Collective at I-94 and 280, leaving the family that owned the bus on the side of the highway with their animals.
Sunday morning I was working at the Cold Snap Legal Collective Office when we got a call that police had pulled a private owned bus over on I-94 around Vandela, at almost the exact same location and were harassing the people on-board. I immediately drove over to the stop along with another legal observer, Nick Rose, a law student from the University of Minnesota.
When we arrived at the entrance ramp at Vandela, there were at least 8 police vehicles there including the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department, the Saint Paul Police, and the Highway Patrol. I parked at least 100 feet behind the last police vehicle and we started up the shoulder at least 50 feet from the nearest officer. We wore the florescent green legal observer caps all legal observers wore.
A Ramsey County Deputy ordered us back to my car and we were prevented from observing why 8 police officers were needed for one private bus.
A State Highway patrolman then proceeded to write me a ticket for illegal stopping which carried a $100 fine.
When I finally got to speak to a City Attorney, at a pre-trial hearing, they didn't care in the slightest when I explained about seizure of the PermaCulture bus on Saturday and that I was present as legal observer on Sunday. The City Attorney's office refused to dismiss the charges and offered me the option of pleading guilty and paying the $100 fine or taking my case to trial.
Before going to trial I then researched the law and discovered that the statute I was citied under by the Highway Patrol, only applied to stopping "on the main roadway or improved section of the road." Before going to trial I showed the City Attorney the law and the police report that clearly showed I was stopped on the shoulder and he didn't seem to care.
I also explained that I was there as a matter of legal necessity to assist the people who called for our help and again the City Attorneys Office did not care.
After a brief trial where the City Attorneys Office argued that legal necessity was not a defense, a Ramsey County Referee dismissed the charges against me.
But to get out of this ticket I had to go to the Ramsey County Courthouse 4 times and spent at least 10 hours of my time.
Now my case was only one of over 650 cases the City Attorneys Office handled as a result of the mass arrests during RNC. It showed that the City Attorneys Office had no interest in the facts of my case and simply wanted a plea or a conviction.
The City Attorneys office has now tried over 35 cases, (36 if you include mine), as a result of the RNC and has secured only one conviction resulting in a $50.00 fine.
This shows that City Attorney John Choi does not have the ability to properly handle his office or the cases before it. Surely the DFL can find someone better qualified than John Choi for Ramsey County Attorney.
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