ST. PAUL, Minn. — Monday morning saw the start of trials for counter-protesters who disrupted the March 4 Trump rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. In March, more than 100 counter-protesters gathered at pro-Trump rally at the Capitol where they maced, tasered, and got into physical altercations with Trump supporters. Several attendees of the pro-Trump event were injured as a result.
Francis Thomas Sagermerek, 29, appeared before District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle, as he was charged with felony third degree riot and use of tear gas to immobilize, also a felony.
Appearing with his court-appointed attorney, Sagermerek, dressed in all black, appeared before Judge Kyle and announced they had taken the deal presented by Ramsey County Assistant Attorney Hassan Taheri.
The deal dropped the felony use of tear gas to immobilize and downgraded felony third degree riot to a gross misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea.
Sagermerek, who initially pled not guilty during his first court appearance, told the court he “maced someone” and had intentions of disturbing the peace when affirming he would plead not guilty.
However, when Taheri and Sagermerek went over the events of the March 4 Trump rally, Sagermerek contradicted himself by stating that he intended to counter-protest peacefully, though he later admitted to carrying mace in his pockets.
Describing Trump supporters as protesters and the alt-right, Sagermereck told the court he was covered head-to-toe in black, wearing a studded jacket and bandana over his face, that he arrived with several other people.
Acknowledging Trump supporters had built a wall to keep counter-protesters away from their event, Sagermereck told the court that is when he grabbed the canister of mace and “sprayed it at one of the Trump supporters.” He announced the attack to be one that was “unprovoked and not in defense.”
Seven other counter-protesters have been charged and are currently awaiting trial.
Anton William Bueckert, 26, a Canadian national currently has a warrant out for his arrest and has been charged with three felony counts relating to the March 4 event.
The remaining six, who were charged by St. Paul City Attorney Sam Clark, include the son of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Linwood “Woody” Kaine. Sen. Kaine, the running mate of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has defended his son throughout the case.
Sagermerek will be sentenced on October 5, 2017.