Minnesota Supreme Court ruling protested at State Capitol

Hundreds of people gathered together at the Minnesota State Capitol Building to protest the controversial overturning of a rape case.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a person can’t be found guilty of sexually assaulting someone, who is mentally incapacitated due to intoxication, if that person became intoxicated by voluntarily ingesting drugs or alcohol. 

This decision was announced on Wednesday, March 24 after the overturn of a rape case where the rapist found the women outside the bar that she was too intoxicated to enter. 

The court’s unanimous opinion was written by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Thissen. Thissen states in the opinion that “The legislative definition of “mentally incapacitated,” as set forth in Minn. Stat. §  609.341, subd. 7 (2020), does not include a person who is voluntarily intoxicated by alcohol.”

This ruling left many Minnesotans in outrage. Not long after this announcement was made, posts started circling around social media discussing this ruling and how they don’t approve of it. 

For example, Rachael Denhollander, Attorney known for her work with the USA Gymnastics and Larray Nassar Rape trial tweeted, “The MN Supreme Court just unanimously ruled that no crime is committed if a completely intoxicated person is raped, as long as the victim drank willingly. Getting drunk is literally consent to sex now. They just gave the license to rape. It’s 2021. And we’re here.”

A women’s rights protest was quickly organized with posts circulating on various social media platforms such as snapchat stating, “this is disgusting and a threat to women’s rights everywhere.” 

The posts about the protest then stated the dates, times and locations as well as informing everyone to wear a mask and social distance to keep everyone safe. This post circulated to people all over the state of Minnesota, and led to hundreds of people showing up to the capitol building to protest and share their stories.

Minnesota State University, Mankato freshman Abigail Johnson was in attendance of the protest. 

“I came here to support all the women who have gone through situations similar to this,” said Johnson amidst the cheering. “I want them to know I hear them and I stand with them.” 

The event started with groups of people gathering together to shout chants and share their frustrations with each other. 

Many protestors held signs with sayings such as, “If it’s not a yes, it’s a no!” and, “Drunk does not equal consent” to help them show their disgust to this announcement. 

After a couple of hours, the hosts of the event sat everyone down and began to call up protest goers up who wished to speak about their perspectives on the ruling, as well as their own personal testimonies. These included stories from people’s own experiences, as well as experiences from their friends and family.

“I hope that the outrage demonstrated at the capital, as well as online, help Minnesota lawmakers open their eyes to the type of environment they are creating when enforcing this law,” said Johnson. “It’s not just random people walking around the streets. It is your co-workers, your friends, and your family this is affecting.”

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