Four charged in attack on 4th Precinct protesters

At a 1 p.m. news conference, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced charges against four defendants in the shooting of five people near the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct on Nov. 23. Allen L. Scarsella III, 23, has been charged with one count of second-degree riot while armed and five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. The other three — Nathan Gustavsson, 21, Daniel Macey, 26, and Joseph M. Backman, 27 — are also facing second-degree riot while armed charges.

Mayor Betsy Hodges and Rep. Keith Ellison want the occupation of Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct to end. They said is much in a press conference alongside other community leaders, the Southwest Journal’s Sarah McKenzie reports: “Mayor Betsy Hodges, Congressman Keith Ellison, City Council President Barb Johnson and many other North Side community leaders are calling on protesters to end their occupation of the 4th Precinct police station. … Protesters have been camped out at the police station for two weeks as a sign of support for Jamar Clark who was fatally shot by police near the precinct on Nov. 15. … Community leaders say the barricade of Plymouth Avenue has posed safety challenges and inconvenienced many people in the neighborhood.”

In its November 2015 blog post, the MN State Demographic Center takes a deeper look at the median income and poverty levels for Black Minnesotans. Key takeaways: the picture of rising Black poverty and decreasing median income is not as clear as news reports at the time seemed to claim — Minnesota does not rank below Mississippi, though the state doesn’t beat them by much in terms of Black median income — but the situation for Blacks in the state is still significantly worse than it is for all residents of the state.

MPR has a pair of stories that highlight just how hard it is to be a farmer in Minnesota. First, a story from Mark Steil on the inverse relationship between the bounty of corn and soybean harvests and the price of those crops: “The record corn and soybean crops are causing prices to drop. And the financial pain has spread beyond the major grains to most sectors of the farm economy. … Earlier this decade, just about every part of farming saw record prices and profits. But then the markets turned, and now most sectors are struggling to make money.”

But that’s today’s struggle. For a look ahead to next year’s, there’s Lorna Benson on preparations to fight the next avian flu outbreak: “The avian influenza strain that killed more than 9 million Minnesota turkeys and chickens last spring behaved like no other and fooled the industry into making some mistakes. It was a devastating season. … Now, with the industry mostly recovered, researchers are working to make sure the virus won’t outmaneuver them again.”

Cyber Monday is not the day you want your website to go down. Target is a victim of its own success, according to Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Nick Halter: “Shoppers were unable to access briefly Monday morning as Cyber Monday traffic overwhelmed the Minneapolis-based retailer’s website. … Offering a 15 percent catalogue-wide discount, the Target website went down around 9 a.m. but came back about 40 minutes later for a limited number of customers. … The site was down again shortly before 10 a.m., with a message telling customers, ‘So sorry, but high traffic’s causing delays. If you wouldn’t mind holding, we’ll refresh automatically & get things going ASAP.’ ”

In other news…

’Tis the season: Anonymous donors drop $500,000 check in Salvation Army kettle. [KMSP]

Disgraced St. Paul VA employee Kimberly Graves got a transfer … to Phoenix? [Arizona Republic]

Well, U.S. Bank Stadium has been good to them: “Ryan Cos. US Inc. plans to moves its headquarters to a new building near U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.” [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal]

Check out the Pioneer Press’ swanky new digs. [Pioneer Press]

Miss out on getting tickets for the Dixie Chicks at the State Fair? They’ve added a second show. [KSTP]

Ever wondered what seminal Prince film “Purple Rain” would be like if it were set in Niger and featured Tuareg musicians? Well, wonder no more. [MPR]

Adrian Peterson surpassed O.J. Simpson in all-time rushing. [ESPN]

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 11/30/2015 - 02:08 pm.

    2nd degree riot?

    What kind of charge is that compared to, say, attempted murder? Seems like arming yourself & putting yourself in a volatile situation that then escalates to the point of firing on unarmed people rises to the point of premeditated intent to take life.

    • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 11/30/2015 - 03:39 pm.

      From the MN Statutes

      “Subd. 2.Riot second degree. When three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property, each participant who is armed with a dangerous weapon or knows that any other participant is armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of riot second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.”

      Had any of the victims died, the charge would have been “Riot first degree” with a maximum 20 year sentence, whereas if they’d gone in and just punched people, it would have been “Riot third degree” and carried a maximum 1 year sentence.

      I am not a lawyer, but, while the punishment seems less (in MN, an attempt charge results in no more than half the penalty that would have accrued for the actual charge — so attempted third-degree murder would be a maximum 12.5 year sentence), it would seem significantly harder to prove at trial, especially given that part of the standard for third-degree murder is “evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life”. We might agree, but a jury could find otherwise.

      The riot charge seems pretty much assured, by comparison.

  2. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/30/2015 - 03:37 pm.

    barricade of Plymouth Ave

    Are they blocking one of Betsy’s bike paths?

  3. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 11/30/2015 - 04:13 pm.

    They file charges

    Based on what they think they can convict.

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