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Minnesota State Patrol destroyed emails, texts following 2020 unrest 

Plus: parents group files suit seeking to impose mask mandate at Minnesota’s K-12 schools; state adds more COVID-19 testing sites amid resurgence of cases; Northwest Angle residents encountering lots of bears; and more. 

Andy Mannix writes for the Star Tribune: “Minnesota State Patrol officers conducted a mass purge of e-mails and text messages immediately after their response to riots last summer, leaving holes in their paper trail as the courts and other investigators attempt to reconstruct whether law enforcement used improper force in the chaos following George Floyd’s murder. In a recent court hearing in a lawsuit alleging the State Patrol targeted journalists during the unrest, State Patrol Maj. Joseph Dwyer said he and a ‘vast majority of the agency’ deleted the communiqués after the riots, according to a transcript published to the federal court docket Friday night.”

MPR reports: “A group of parents of students at Minnesota K-12 schools that have not implemented mask mandates are suing the state, asking the court to order Gov. Tim Walz to enact a statewide mask mandate for schools amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. The lawsuit filed Friday in Ramsey County by a group calling itself ‘Parents Advocating for Safe Schools’ (PASS) asserts that a provision in the Minnesota Constitution gives students ‘a fundamental right to an “adequate” education.’”

MPR reports: “The state of Minnesota is adding more COVID-19 testing sites to meet a resurgent demand. Early in the summer the state had closed some of its community testing sites as fewer people were seeking COVID tests. But rising case counts driven by the more-contagious delta variant in recent weeks are bringing more demand for testing. The state will open a semi-permanent COVID testing site at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Wednesday, and another at the former YMCA in Lino Lakes on Sept. 13.”

For the Forum News Service, Brad Dokken writes: “Living on Minnesota’s Northwest Angle, seeing the occasional bear goes with the territory. This summer, though, has been one for the books. Bears are everywhere, especially the past month or so. Natural foods are scarce because of the ongoing drought, and bears are on the move just trying to scrounge up enough food to survive.”

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Mary Divine writes in the Pioneer Press: “The Stillwater Area Public School District has sued Metropolitan Transportation Network for an alleged breach of contract, saying that the school-bus company has failed to provide agreed-upon busing services. … A shortage of school-bus drivers means some buses in the district have been running up to an hour late.”

WCCO-TV reports: “A Mounds View man has been indicted for the murder of his wife more than a decade ago. A Ramsey County grand jury indicted 38-year-old Nicholas Firkus on first- and second-degree murder charges. He was arrested in May on suspicion of killing 25-year-old Heidi Firkus back in 2010 in St. Paul. Firkus told police at the time someone broke into their home and grabbed his shotgun, and that his wife was shot and killed during a struggle over the weapon. He could face up to 40 years in prison.

Neal Justin writes for the Star Tribune: “Scott Hansen was signing autographs after his 2019 New Year’s Eve show at Maple Tavern when a stranger approached him and grabbed both his hands. ‘This is hard for me, but I was going to kill myself this afternoon,’ Hansen recalled the fan saying. ‘But I came to the show and I feel better about my life. I can laugh again.’ That Maple Grove gig turned out to be [Hansen’s] last. The 66-year-old comic, who is credited with jump-starting the stand-up scene in the Twin Cities, died Sunday, according to Louie Anderson and others.”