Protesters interrupt group's first hearing on police-involved deadly force encounters

Saturday morning, protesters delayed the first hearing of a working group focused on police-involved deadly force encounters.

The hearing, led by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, was an attempt to solicit feedback on deadly force encounters and investigations. Ellison and Harrington are the co-chairs of the 16-member group made up of people ranging from law enforcement, mental health professionals, prosecutors and tribal representatives.

Also present at the meeting was Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2016.

Not long after the hearing began, protesters interrupted the group and demanded their voices be heard.

One of the protesters criticized the location of the meeting, saying officials have not reached out to the groups most affected by deadly police encounters.

“This ain’t no community conversation. We are at the Capitol. We are not in the community. You are not in north Minneapolis where this is impacted the most! You didn’t go to the community,” one protester said.

Through a livestream from the Department of Public Safety, Attorney General Ellison can be heard having an exchange with the protesters. 

“We believe this group would be well-served if we took this time to focus our attention on reducing deadly force encounters, whether it’s a citizen, whether it’s an officer, whether it’s considered to be legally deemed justified or not,” Ellison said. “We just need fewer.”

The meeting resumed shortly after noon.