Private security company barred from sending armed guards to polling places in Minnesota
© WikiMedia (Phil Roeder)
Private security company barred from sending armed guards to polling places in Minnesota

A Tennessee private security company recruiting military veterans to ‘protect’ polls in Minnesota will face new restrictions as part of a settlement with local civic engagement organizations.

Two weeks before the November 3 election, The League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWVMN) and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) filed a lawsuit against military contractor Atlas Aegis, citing voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The company had posted an advertisement recruiting Special Operations Forces veterans to “protect elections polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction.” The complaint alleges that Atlas planned to target “perceived ‘antifa’ members and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Shortly after the lawsuit was initiated, District Court Judge Nancy Brasel issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Atlas from sending armed agents to polling places in the November 2020 election.

Minnesota Solicitor General Liz Kramer also filed an assurance of discontinuance in which Atlas claimed they had been hired by a private security firm and only intended to protect local businesses. The assurance required Atlas to keep its business out of Minnesota until January 2022.

Tuesday’s settlement extended the restrictions the company will face. Brasel issued a consent decree prohibiting Atlas from sending security agents to polling places, vote counting locations and meetings of canvassing boards or electors. They will also be required to notify LWVMN and CAIR-MN representatives at least 25 days in advance if they send armed security forces to work at a non-election-related event. The consent decree will remain in place until 2025.