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Boot print on his back: Photographs, video of 17-year-old RNC protester after run-in with police

September 2, 2008

From Minnesota Independent
By Paul Schmelzer

Melissa Smith-Tourville says her 17-year-old son Keith is a pacifist and “he’d never hurt anyone.” But yesterday he was the target of violence by police, she says: Trying to leave Monday’s march on the Republican National Convention, Keith was wrestled to the ground by five officers, according to his mother, who were “repeatedly kicking, beating, dragging and hitting him.” [Read Smith-Tourville’s account of what happened.] Bloody, he was taken into custody by police for two hours and, his mom says, his release by St. Paul police was in violation of Minnesota law.

Smith-Tourville is seeking legal advice from Coldsnap Legal Collective. They told her that as a minor, state law says that Keith should’ve been put in contact with his parents. “Keith repeatedly asked to call his parents,” she says. “He said he can’t even count how many times he said, ‘Can I call my parents?’”

More importantly, Coldsnap told her he should have been released into his parents’ custody. Instead he was released into the streets of St. Paul, an unfamiliar town far from his native Menomonie, Wis. When Smith-Tourville sought information, she was told that they could only find a hand-written report, and it said nothing about Keith needing medical attention.

He was not charged with any crime, his mother says.

He also was not given medical treatment. These images, published by Milwaukee’s Vital Source magazine, show the extent of his injuries.


Injuries include abrasions where Keith says he was hit by police batons, scrapes from where was dragged to the ground, and a very visible boot print on his back.

Smith-Tourville can’t believe her son, one of 10 children she raises as a licensed foster parent, deserved such treatment.

“He would never harm anyone,” she said of the boy she identifies as a practicing Buddhist. “To think that five police officers assaulted him — who wouldn’t let him protect himself and put him in a position where he couldn’t call his parents for help — is unconscionable.”

Smith-Tourville says Coldsnap is filing a police misconduct report on the family’s behalf.

Here’s a video of Smith, who remained calm when facing off with police, as he departed the site of the downtown protest:

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