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Ugly protests outside Trump event in Minneapolis spurs partisan spat

MINNEAPOLIS -- Donors who attended Donald Trump's Minneapolis fundraiser Friday night were heckled and blocked and at least one reported he was robbed upon leaving the high-dollar event.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Donors who attended Donald Trump’s Minneapolis fundraiser Friday night were heckled and blocked and at least one reported he was robbed upon leaving the high-dollar event.

“That was beyond protesting,” Cynthia Schanno of St. Paul told the St. Paul Pioneer Press . “That was harassing people. That was absolutely harassing, terrorizing, bullying people.”

On Monday, the event and the protests devolved into a partisan spat, with Minnesota Republican Party chair Keith Downey suggesting the DFL may have influenced the police response and Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chair Ken Martin accusing the Republican chair of transparent cynicism .

The two party chairs agree, however, that the loud, sometimes physical melee outside the Minneapolis Convention Center fundraiser was not acceptable.

“Democrats are free to protest, but physically accosting people is becoming all too common, and it needs to stop,” Downey said.

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“We support the right of protesters to gather peacefully, but what happened on Friday night crossed the line. There is no excuse for violence in any form,” Martin said.

The protesters had a motley mix of agendas. Some were against Trump’s stance on immigration; others burned an American flag. Early on, a Democratic National Committee-sponsored be-costumed “Donald Duck” came and left, and some protesters clad in black masks added their voices.

Some attendees had security escorts to and from the convention center so they could leave unscathed. A 75-year-old man who attended the fundraiser reported he was robbed of his cellphone as he left, and punches were exchanged between at least one attendee and protesters.

On Monday, the Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement that it is investigating three incidents related to the fundraiser: “a ‘robbery of person’ where a cellphone was taken, an ‘assault’ where a person had souvenirs ripped out of their hand, and a ‘damage to property’ report after someone spray-painted graffiti on the convention center itself.”

The police department, which said it had dozens of officers working at or near the event, said the suggestion that it had been told to “stand down” was false.

“The majority of protests were peaceful throughout the evening and minor disruptions to traffic were handled without incident. Late in the evening, after the candidate left, Minneapolis Police Officers provided approximately 50 escorts for those who attended the event. However, we understand there were some attendees who left without escorts who were the subject of intimidation and abuse. The MPD is currently looking at video from some of these incidents,” the statement said .

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