As clashes between police and protesters subsided outside the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, county prosecutors charged eight people with conspiring to cause a riot as part of a terrorist act.
The eight suspects were arrested in connection with raids of homes in the Twin Cities that were conducted by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department before the convention began.
The charges are highly unusual because of the terrorism aspect. Ramsey County Atty. Susan Gaertner said she could recall no such case in her 24 years with the prosecutor’s office.
“This was the most serious charge that we found that was supported by the evidence,” she said. “The terrorism aspect is appropriate. This is not your average criminal charge, but this was not your average crime.”
If convicted, the suspects could each face up to five years in jail, a $10,000 fine, or both.
Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing several of the suspects, called the charges ridiculous.
The accusations are “an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism,” Nestor said in a statement.