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Are cops drugging Occupy Wall Street protesters in Minnesota?

Published time: May 15, 2012 16:44
Edited time: May 15, 2012 20:44

Minnesota police (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

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After footage surfaced of Occupy Wall Street protesters in Minnesota making claims that they’ve been drugged by police officers, authorities in the state have opened up a criminal investigation.

At least one Minnesota state trooper has been placed on paid leave since law enforcement officers began investigating allegations that cops arrived at Occupy Wall Street encampments and drugged protesters.

Independent filmmakers and journalists in the state say that they have encountered members of local Occupy offshoots who say they have been offered drugs by law enforcement officers. Protesters who opt in to the program are stoned for free while, in turn, cops monitor the effects of the intoxicants.

Dan Feidt, an independent journalist who has investigated these claims, says there was nothing that complicated about the process: “The sheriff is getting people to do drugs and then they drop you back off at the plaza,” he tells RT.

“They are trying to practice how to start getting information out of people; How to start rewarding them to give information,” says Feidt.

Only after his own investigation began to raise questions did others step up and demand answers, though.

“Essentially, we kind of think that one thing that may have happened is an officer in a rural town called Hutchinson was encouraged to step forward and talk to his police chief about seeing a state trooper handing out marijuana to DRE [Drug Recognition Expert] subjects. And as soon as that happened, his police chief talked to the state level Department of Public Safety, they started having an official investigation, they had to announce it, and that finally get the local media rolling on the whole thing,” Feidt explains.

Although the accounts were shrugged off by some outlets at first, a state trooper has since been taken off the beat and put on paid leave. Other officials, insists Feidt, understand that people in Minnesota — both protesters and not — are pushing for a thorough investigation.

“It seems like the mayor is really feeling the heat and kind of laying low out of this program,” he says. “They are trying to spin what happened, they are trying to blame it on a couple of rogue officers, and they still aren’t addressing the ethical issues, the medical safety issues, all those other things. They are just trying to peg it on a couple of people and hope that everybody keeps moving on.”

With investigations like the one opened up by Feidt, however, the allegations are anything but disappearing. Now the story is being picked up by outlets across the world, and while it may seem far-fetched, journalists such as Feidt have the video documentation to back up their claim. And as more people are becoming aware of the practice, the journalist says it raises a multitude of questions. Aside from the moral and ethical dilemmas that arise, Feidt questions the safety problems that could come from this.

“Was this laced with something?” he asks. “People are in danger if they are being offered contaminated drugs.”

“It is starting to really prompt discussion about the war on drugs,” he says.