Lawsuit seeks city data in Black Lives Matter protest at Mall of America

A software engineer and self-proclaimed public records researcher filed a lawsuit against the City of Bloomington for access to government data connected to the Black Lives Matter protest at Mall of America. Criminal charges were filed in January against 10 protesters, and say Bloomington police officers infiltrated a Black Lives Matter meeting to gain intelligence before the planned December 20 demonstration.

Charges: Officers infiltrated Black Lives Matter meeting, were spit on by MOA protesters

Tony Webster's complaint alleges the city violated the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act by refusing him access to government information about the protest and law enforcement response, and also for "withholding, concealing, and likely destroying data without any legal basis for doing so."

Webster said he submitted his public records request to inspect government data from the Bloomington Police Department and other city agencies on Dec. 23, seeking emails, voicemails, video recordings, and other documents "to increase the public's understanding of the City of Bloomington's actions and response to the protest."

His lawsuit says the city provided access to "only a fraction" of the requested information, and omitted metadata which Webster says is essential for establishing a timeline events.

"After repeated attempts to work with the City to obtain access to the public data I requested, the City of Bloomington has stonewalled me and attempted to intimidate and discourage me from exercising my rights," Webster said in a news release.

Webster is represented by Maslon LLP and Godfread Law Firm.
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