A federal judge approved a permanent injunction prohibiting the Minnesota State Patrol from arresting or attacking journalists, which occurred when reporters documented the unrest after police killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. The injunction stems from a class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2020. The court will monitor compliance with the injunction for the next six years, under an order by U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ACLU attorney Pari McGarraugh said, "Providing impartial information to the public about demonstrations, protests and other conflicts between law enforcement and the public is at the heart of journalism, and the right to witness and report must be protected and upheld."
The State Patrol is prohibited by the order from ordering journalists to stop photographing, recording or observing a protest, making journalists disperse, or seizing or intentionally damaging photo, audio or video gear. The settlement includes a $825,000 payout to journalists attacked and injured by the State Patrol while covering protests after Floyd's and Wright's deaths. The settlement includes the requirement that all troopers are issued body-worn cameras by June 2022, trained in treatment of media and First Amendment rights and that all officers at protests must prominently display an agency name and badge number readable from 20 feet away. "I hope it sends a message to law enforcement that they can't do this and I hope this protects journalists in the future from being attacked for doing their job," said journalist Ed Ou, who was attacked by the State Patrol while he was documenting the Floyd protests with his camera. Journalists reporting on the protests were beaten with batons, teargassed, maced in the face and forced to dodge concussive grenades.