FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2020
City Attorney Lyndsey Olson
SAINT PAUL, MN - Today, Saint Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson announced plans for the resolution of civil unrest cases related to the events following the death of George Floyd. The Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office Community Justice Unit will review cases using principles of individualized justice, supporting and protecting First Amendment Rights while maintaining public safety through a distinction between those engaging in peaceful protest and those engaging in aggressive, harmful behavior.
“Supporting healing in our community following the death of George Floyd means making a distinction between those peacefully protesting, and those causing destruction in our community,” said City Attorney Olson. “Our plans for resolving these cases strikes this critical balance.”
“Voices of peaceful protest have challenged and renewed our country’s spirit in every generation,” said Mayor Carter. “I fully support this approach, and appreciate the critical distinction between those who sought to build a better future for our community and those who tried to tear us down.”
ABOUT THE PLAN FOR THE RESOLUTION OF CIVIL UNREST CASES
In response to nearly 100 cases related to civil unrest stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office Community Justice Unit will screen cases and determine charging. One primary consideration that will inform these charging decisions will be a distinction between those engaging in peaceful protest and those engaging in aggressive, harmful behavior.
The Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office is still in the process of reviewing these cases but has determined that cases where individuals were engaged only in peaceful protest that did not involve associated acts of violence or threats to people or property will be dismissed in the interest of justice. The dismissal process will include a phone call or a letter from the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office explaining the charging decision and inviting the individual to dialogue and/or participate in justice outcomes in the Saint Paul community by volunteering as a circle member in their neighborhood with Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office ETHOS restorative justice program.
For those individuals whose conduct goes beyond peaceful protest, the City Attorney’s Office may offer alternatives to traditional prosecution including the ETHOS program which uses restorative justice principles to engage with first-time and/or non-violent offenders.
In such instances, the ETHOS program would engage participants in a conversation with community members to identify the harm caused by their offense and develop a unique plan to repair the harm to the victim and the community. The program uses restorative healing circles to facilitate these discussions, and once the participant completes their unique plan, the case is dismissed, and an expungement is submitted to the court for approval.
The City Attorney’s Office will make charging decisions on a case by case basis and will proceed with traditional prosecution as deemed necessary.
ABOUT THE COMMUNITY JUSTICE UNIT
The Community Justice Unit (CJU) is dedicated to engaging the people of Saint Paul to ensure that the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office administers justice that is equitable and represents the values of the community we serve. The CJU engages in:
- Non-traditional prosecution models including ETHOS, which uses restorative justice principles to engage with first-time, non-violent offenders; treatment courts; and expanded and enhanced diversion;
- Criminal justice reform, including working with justice and community partners to minimize failures to appear, reduce the number of outstanding warrants, fines and fees reform, bail reform, and other equity-focused reforms;
- Education and outreach, including expanding outreach and trainings for community organizations, working with the City Attorney's Office immigration program to coordinate efforts, and expanding outreach and training to traditionally underserved communities;
- Engagement and training of law enforcement, including regular trainings of officers at roll calls and in-service trainings;
- Coordinating issue- and case-specific response, including working with law enforcement and others to respond to specific situations affecting the community; and
- Implementation of values in City Attorney's Office prosecution, including ensuring consistency in charging and dispositions that incorporates City Attorney's Office mission and values.