Occupy protesters in Minneapolis say out-of-town police gave them drugs

Protesters part of the OccupyMN movement say that suburban and rural sheriff’s deputies picked up people from Peavey Plaza and provided them drugs as part of the state’s Drug Recognition Evaluator program.

A YouTube video (“MK Occupy Minnesota: Drugs & the DRE Program at Peavey Plaza”) posted by independent media activists and members of Communities United Against Police Brutality show several people getting into cruisers and alleging the officers provided them drugs at a Richfield Minnesota Department of Transportation facility. 

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said he had no prior knowledge that this practice was taking place, if the allegations are true. 

“We looked at the allegations but there was nothing involving Minneapolis Police, and I’d be shocked if they were involved,” Dolan said. 

The video shows cruisers or deputies from Dakota, Fillmore, Olmsted, Chisago and Kanabec counties.

At a public hearing on May 2, activist Forest Oliver told a city committee that law enforcement officers took him to an airfield in Richfield, gave him a bag of marijuana and a pipe, and told him to smoke the marijuana. He’s featured several times on the video. 

Others on the video say police offered them all sorts of drugs, including cocaine and heroin. 

Two phone calls to the Minnesota State Patrol, which administers the Drug Recognition Evaluator program, were not returned to the Southwest Journal. 

The State Patrol, did, however, tell the Star Tribune that there was no evidence of the allegations that law enforcement officials actually gave drugs to the people they picked up. The State Patrol said the program is designed so that officers pick up people who already used drugs and does not give them drugs. 

OccupyMN protesters at a May 7 city committee hearing said that officers would drop off intoxicated people at Peavey Plaza, making their protests look bad.

Dolan said his department is looking into the allegations.

“We’ve seen the allegations or heard the allegations,” he said. “If that’s the case, we’re not very happy about that, but we’ll look into it and find out and get some answers. There’s nothing implicating Minneapolis in this.”

Asked if he knew that out-of-town agencies were giving drugs to protesters, Dolan said: “No. I think we’d probably have an issue with that.”

City Council Member Cam Gordon, who sits on the committee, raised concerns about the allegations on his blog.

“I can appreciate that it is in the interest of the public to have a well-educated police force, able to identify intoxicated people,” he wrote. “But there must be better, more ethical, alternative ways to provide them that education.”

Rybak nominates PCA commissioner for city coordinator post 

Mayor R.T. Rybak has nominated Paul Aasen, the commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to take over as city coordinator 

Aasen has served under three governors from three different parties. He was also Gov. Jesse Ventura’s director of government operations and Gov. Arne Carlson’s executive director of the Minnesota Emergency Response Commission. 

“He brings a wide range of experience across many fields to a job that requires it,” Rybak said in a statement. “I’m also especially pleased that he brings a deep environmental background to a city with deep green values and proven results in enhancing our sustainability.” 

Aasen will be nominated at Wednesday’s Executive Committee meeting with full City Council approval scheduled for next week.  

The city coordinator is one of the most important positions in the city, overseeing several departments including finance, communications, government relations and human resources. 

The former city coordinator, Steven Bosacker earlier this year in order to travel the world. He had held the position since 2006. He was Ventura’s chief of staff. 

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.