Jordan Kushner, legal observer harassed during anti-Israel protest at Wolves game, speaks out

Jordan Kushner twolves.jpg
Kushner (top right, corner) was pushed around by a Target Center employee and grabbed by police for seemingly no good reason.
Twin Cities attorney Jordan Kushner is a National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer. As such, he attends protests to make sure private security and law enforcement respects demonstrators' rights even when situations become tense.

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But at Tuesday night's Timberwolves preseason game against Maccabi Haifa B.C., Kushner became became part of the story. While filming Target Center security's response to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protest, a Target Center staffer accused Kushner of pushing him. Cops promptly escorted him out of the arena and cited him for disorderly conduct.

Video of the incident can be watched here. Yesterday, City Pages reached out to Kushner, who was characterized by the Star Tribune in 2010 as "the go-to attorney for Twin Cities protest groups taking on the establishment," to get his take on the way security and police handled the T-Wolves game protest.

Kushner characterized the security guard's "don't push me!" reaction and law enforcement's decision to eject him from the game as "orchestrated."

"The main arresting officer was saying how he didn't like the protest... he wasn't operating based on the facts," Kushner said.

Security guards went around the arena and asked people waving Palestinian flags and pro-Palestinian placards to put them down, yet fans waving Israeli flags were left alone.

"It's amazing that free speech can be so cavalierly cut off there," Kushner said. "I wasn't doing anything but observing, trying to explain to security guards and police that these folks [i.e., pro-Palestinian protesters] have the same free speech rights... It just added to the egregiousness that I was there to observe what was happening."

As an attorney who often works with protesters who have their rights trampled on, Kushner said he isn't surprised by the way things played out on Tuesday night.

"There certainly is a lot of abuses of people who protest. That's why I'm involved in the angle that I am," Kushner said. "What happened wasn't a huge shock to me, but it shouldn't be happening."

"Our system doesn't live up to its commitment to free speech on many occasions," he continued. The anti-Israel protesters "know it is a politically contentious issue and are trying to bring it to public attention and here you have the people who run the arena working in concert with the police to prevent people from speaking... Israeli banners were all over and nobody came to talk to them."

The bottom line, Kushner said, is that the Target Center is a publicly owned arena, and as such, the free speech rights of all should be respected.

"There's no question that this is a public place, a public forum, and free speech isn't based on what people want to hear," he said. "It's disturbing that someone charged with enforcing law has no appreciation and concern for free speech."

As far as his disorderly conduct citation goes, Kushner said he won't take it lying down.

"Obviously I'm not going to plead guilty to something I didn't do," he said. "I wouldn't have a client do that, and I certainly won't."

To read the MPD police report written after Kushner was cited, click to page two.


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10 comments
stopresisting
stopresisting

This reminds me of countless videos depicting "police officers" beating unarmed and cooperative suspects while justifying it by repeating "stop resisting" over and over, even if the victim is unconscious.

Emily_Esq
Emily_Esq

Kushner initiataed physical contact, then whines when he is physically contacted.  I call bullshit.  Second, though Target Center is publicly owned, it is leased for the exclusive use by the leasee, in this case the Minnesota Timberwolves.  The Timberwolves, as leasees, grant licenses (read:tickets) to people to attend events at the arena. Those licenses are revokable if the license holder is not acting in accordance with the rules establsihed by the fan code of conduct, which is available online.Kushner may be the go-to attorney on protest stuff, but that doesn't mean he knows the law.  He will undoubtedly lose in court.

timothynyc4
timothynyc4

The article above is the poorest article I have ever viewed for it's bias, inaccurate recount on the Timberwolves Iaraeli basketball exhibit. 1st the flags you deemed "offensive" were Palistine flags. 2nd Mr. Kushner was an independent legal observer NLG attorney, present to observe the constitutional authorized protest by the Palistine Protestors. Seems you don't know how to write the truth, so you write just what you want, garbage.

BethAtim
BethAtim

For clarification, this was not an "anti-Israel" protest, it was an anti-apartheid protest as part of a larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on Israel until they comply with international and human rights laws. Sports boycotts were hugely influential in the BDS movement on apartheid South Africa, and played a big role in bringing about an end to that oppressive regime, which starkly parallels what is going on by the Israeli government against the indigenous arab population of the land. In fact, Desmond Tutu has said that Israeli Apartheid is worse than the apartheid that existed in South Africa. 

jerry275
jerry275

 @Emily_Esq If the Esq after your name is supposed to mean you're an attorney, you should read up on free speech in public venues. Invidious discrimination by a business is unlawful. Enforcing one standard on the pro-Israel-apartheid people and a different standard on the anti-Israel-apartheid people is clearly illegal. The security supervisor clearly entered Kushner's space, an assault, to fake a claim of assault by him. If you're seriously an attorney, you are not articulating the law well at all.

atrupar
atrupar moderator

 @timothynyc4 Where do I write anything about "offensive flags"? Nowhere. And Mr. Kushner's status as a legal observer is mentioned in first sentence of piece.

timothynyc4
timothynyc4

@atrupar you included flags and the comment on Kushner in this passage on page 2. in English. On 10-16-12, Officers were working off-duty at the Target Center, Off-duty call number #6101. The vent that was taking place at this sports facility was Minnesota Timberwolves basketball. The Timberwolves were playing an exhibition game vs a pro team from Israel. During the very beginning of the basketball game, Target Center security reported numerous disturbances that were taking place in the stands amongst fans. There were offensive banners being hung and displayed by fans as well as fans taunting each other in the stands. Officers were called to section 111 at the Target Center. There were numerous fans yelling at each other and demanding that a certain group of fans be removed because this group was offensive and shouting racial slurs at other fans. The disturbing fans were also "displaying homemade signs and flags that were deemed offensive to other people." AP/Kushner was one of the fans causing a disturbance. AP/Kushner was eventually cited for disorderly conduct and escorted out of the sports arena without further incident.

timothynyc4
timothynyc4

@atrupar Then it is clear the text was not your words. Thank you for the clarification. It appears now the Arresting officer does not know the law, an agent of the law, their independent role in protests for law, And clearly the officer is bias writing a flag of Palestine as "offensive to other people," clearly racist in their call to police who oblige. That's discrimination in the first right by people and the police.

atrupar
atrupar moderator

 @timothynyc4  Yup, that's the police report, written by a police officer, as clearly stated in the last paragraph of the post.

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