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Civil Rights Decision in Baribeau v. Minneapolis

By FindLaw Staff on February 25, 2010 9:05 AM

Baribeau v. Minneapolis, No. 08-3165, concerned an action claiming that plaintiff-protesters were seized without probable cause and in retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights.  The district court granted summary judgment for defendants.

As the court of appeals wrote:  "At about 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, 2006, the plaintiffs met at the Nicollet Mall light rail station in downtown Minneapolis, while the city was in the midst of hosting a week-long summer festival known as the Aquatennial. The plaintiffs' plan was to protest the "mindless" nature of consumer culture by walking through the downtown area dressed as zombies. Most of the plaintiffs wore white powder and fake blood on their faces and dark makeup around their eyes."

The court of appeals affirmed the judgment in part where: 1) a reasonable jury could not find that retaliatory animus was a substantial factor or "but-for" cause of the plaintiffs' arrest and detention; and 2) balancing the nature of the intrusion against the need for institutional security, the decision to confiscate one plaintiff's prosthetic leg was reasonable.  However, the court reversed in part where: 1) the arresting officers did not have probable cause to arrest plaintiffs for committing misdemeanor disorderly conduct; and 2) the state of the law at the time of the arrests was clearly established such that a reasonable person would have known there was no probable cause to arrest the plaintiffs for engaging in protected expressive conduct under the disorderly conduct statute.

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