Criminal charges against March 4 Trump counter-protesters in Minnesota

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Prosecutors are filing criminal charges against eight counter-protesters who disrupted the “March 4 Trump” rally at the Minnesota State Capitol on March 4. Among those charged is Linwood Kaine, the son of former Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine.

“Our intent was to rally everybody,” said Alison Heruth, a March 4 Trump organizer. “Doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat, Republican, what race you are, we all need to come together.”

The permitted rally inside the Capitol Rotunda was interrupted by protesters that Saturday, some of whom turned violent. A group of Trump supporters described the scene to Fox 9.

“They brought in pepper spray and tasers, and went after anyone with a Trump sign,” said Sandra Trater, a supporter of President Trump.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office has charged 29-year-old Francis Sagermerek of St. Paul and 26-year-old Anton William Bueckert of Ontario, Canada with gross misdemeanor counts of third-degree riot and using tear gas to immobilize. Bueckert is also charged with obstructing the legal process.

According to the criminal complaints: “On March 4, 2017, a permitted rally took place at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul, Ramsey County. During the rally, protesters arrived at the Capitol. Most were peaceful but some (more than 10) were wearing face and head coverings, and wearing goggles. Rally participants tried to physically block the stairs leading to the rotunda where the rally was taking place. Protesters pushed and shoved trying to get down the stairs, then began employing smoke bombs, tear gas (aka mace), and fireworks. Several people, identified in police reports, had to be treated by paramedics due to the effects of tear gas.”

A Minnesota State Trooper observing the crowd from the west staircase saw Bueckert spray several people with tear gas. Bueckert then ran up the stairs to the second floor. About 30 seconds later, the trooper saw Bueckert “run back down the stairs, pushing through the crowd and punching people at the bottom of the stairs.” The trooper grabbed Bueckert and placed him under arrest. Bueckert resisted the arrest and the trooper later discovered he suffered a broken thumb from the struggle.

According to the criminal complaint against Sagermerek, one witness who reported being maced said that a person with red hair was among those spraying mace. Police analyzed photos of the protesters on the stairs and identified the person with red hair spraying mace as Sagermerek.

“I can tell you there has never been anything close to what happened that day,” Keith Downey, Minnesota Republican Party Chair, told Fox 9 in a March interview.

Following his son’s arrest, Sen. Kaine released a statement: “We love that our three children have their own views and concerns about current political issues. They fully understand the responsibility to express those concerns peacefully.”

Kaine's son, Linwood, is charged with fleeing on foot, concealing identity in a public place and obstructing legal process. Five others are facing similar charges. 

A spokesperson for Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement:

"Today's announcement of misdemeanor charges against Senator Kaine's son contains no suggestion that he engaged in disruptive behavior while at the rally, but are instead focused on his actions as he was arrested after he left. Tim and Anne support their son and hope the matter is resolved soon."