Sentences were handed down this month against four of six protesters who fought with police and other demonstrators during a June 10 clash at the Capitol. Two others await pretrial hearings scheduled in the coming weeks.
The fighting stemmed from the “March Against Sharia,” one of more than two dozen similar U.S. protests against Islamic law held that day. It was organized by ACT for America, a group founded in 2007 that reputedly is among the nation’s largest anti-Muslim groups. It is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as extremist.
Its demonstration began inside the Capitol, drawing only about 20 to 30 participants, according to court documents. Outside the Capitol at the same time, a larger counterdemonstration was under way with an estimated 150 to 200 participants, according to police.
Court records indicate that anti-Sharia protesters exited the Capitol through its west-side doors against the advice of state troopers on the scene. They began a march along Martin Luther King Blvd., moving south from Aurora Ave. That attracted the attention of the larger protest group, officials indicated.
Near the main entrance of the Capitol, state troopers tried to separate the groups, according to court records. But some members of the larger, counterprotest rally ran around the cordon and began clashing with anti-Sharia demonstrators.
The brawling began, records indicate, when a counterdemonstrator identified as Drew Albert Cleland, 31, of Big Lake, took a flying leap and delivered a kick to an anti-Sharia protester’s chest. Cleland ran away, according to his criminal complaint, but returned within five minutes. Despite resisting, he was eventually arrested.
Cleland initially pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor counts of fifth degree assault, obstructing the legal process and disorderly conduct. On Oct. 10, he pleaded guilty to one charge—obstructing the legal process. The others were dismissed. He was sentenced to 30 days in the Ramsey County jail, with 28 days stayed for a year. He was assessed $136 in court fees.
Others charged in the melee included:
- Maxwell Hunter Lindusky, 18, of St. Louis Park. He was charged with disorderly conduct after he allegedly jabbed a 4- to 5-foot pole into the stomach and chest of a state trooper outside the Capitol. The complaint does not indicate which protest group he was part of. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 10 and was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail, with 28 days stayed for a year. He was assessed $136 in fees.
- Ian Matthew MacDonnell, 28, of Minneapolis. He was charged with disorderly conduct after video showed him squaring up to fight another protester. He charged at least one protester and threw a punch at another, but it was not clear from court records which group he was part of. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 6 and was sentenced to 30 days in county jail, with 27 days stayed for one year. He was assessed $136 in fees.
- Caleb Emerson Murphey, 36, of Minneapolis. He faced misdemeanor counts of fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct and was identified as a counterprotester. Murphey was seen bumping chests with an anti-Sharia rally-goer and refusing to let the other person pass. “It appeared he was trying to start a fight,” his criminal complaint says. He pleaded guilty to the second count on Nov. 10 and the assault charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to 30 days in county jail—28 days stayed for a year—and assessed $136 in fees.
- Nicholas Michael Sullivan Kelley, 18, of Nerstrand. He was charged with obstructing the legal process after allegedly attempting to pull a detained protester from troopers’ grasp. He has entered a not guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 2 before Ramsey County District Court Judge Timothy T. Mulrooney.
- John Allen Meyer, 19, of St. Cloud. He faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing the legal process after allegedly interfering with another protester’s arrest. He has pleaded not guilty. His pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30 before Ramsey County District Court Judge Sara Grewing.
Initial media reports indicated that a seventh person, Robert Daniel Horacek, 38, of Zimmerman, also was arrested. However, neither court records nor the city attorney’s office indicate that a person by that name was charged.