Minneapolis Mayor Frey doubles down on Trump rally costs

Only because of violent protestors were out in full-force was Trump’s rally cost over half a million dollars.

Jacob Frey

After calculating police overtime, city worker crews to clean up protestors’ mess, and other public costs, Minneapolis is now saying the Trump campaign owes the city $542,733—about $12,000 higher than the initial figure the city quoted. Almost $400,000 of the over half-a-million cost is attributed to “police costs,” including overtime pay.

The push to make the Trump campaign pay is being driven by Democratic Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey. Frey has focused on Trump’s visit since before it was announced, saying that the President wasn’t welcome in Minneapolis. 

Frey’s also come under scrutiny for an unsupportive attitude to the Minneapolis Police. The police chief is asking for 400 more cops—to counter a sharp increase in violent crime in Minneapolis—and Frey said he would consider less than a dozen

And during Trump’s October 10 rally, violent leftwing protestors threw urine at police officers, and attacked Trump supporters attending the rally, but Frey reportedly stressed to the police that they should stand down and not use chemical irritant. Indeed, the police only made one arrest and issued one citation during the violent protests. 

What next

The Target Center, where Trump’s October 10 rally took place, is owned by the City of Minneapolis, but it’s run by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). Frey’s Minneapolis may sue AEG for the money, which would lead AEG to turn around and sue the Trump campaign. 

“We support Mayor Frey and agree that cities like the City of Minneapolis should not be responsible for costs incurred by the City related to campaign appearances,” AEG said. 

Frey claims he’s not being political, and that every candidate should pay for the costs they incur when visiting. But other candidates’ costs have been markedly less. For example, Bernie Sanders recently visited the University of Minnesota and the cost was only $40,000, with police at the UofM handing traffic and crowd control. And, while campaigning for Obamacare, President Obama visited the Target Center and drew a cost of only $20,000.

Suppressing speech

In other words, only because violent protestors were out in full-force was Trump’s rally cost over half a million dollars. Bernie and Obama didn’t draw nearly the same amount of protestors, and the protestors they might see behave much different than the protestors against Trump, so Bernie and Obama’s costs were much lower. 

That seems to set a dangerous limit on political speech if the Minneapolis Mayor gets his way. It amounts to a suppression of speech if the other side riots. And since conservatives aren’t prone to riots and street-violence, this amounts to a higher cost for conservative speech. 

Because of this, it makes sense that Frey hasn’t moved forward with his lawsuit just yet. The discovery-phase in such a suit could also be incredibly damaging to Frey. Aside from the speech issue, the Trump campaign would surely make the case that Frey’s light-touch approach—via signals to protestors before the rally that kid-gloves would be used, and directives Frey gave to the police—encouraged the protests to be worse than they had to be.

Willis Krumholz

Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.