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Recent Humphrey School Grad Among The Seriously Injured Floyd Protesters

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Soren Stevenson was putting to practice his recent master's degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

His passion for public management and national security policy compelled him to participate in a series of peaceful protests on Sunday.

"We were linking arms and just before that, we were saying hands up don't shoot," Stevenson recalls.

Soren was at the front of the protest line at the on ramp to southbound 35W at University Avenue. Seconds after tear gas and flash bangs filled the air, came the disfiguring shot.

Soren describes the moment, saying, "I looked up at it like this and then was hit in the head with something."

Maimed by what's called a "non-lethal" round.  It was very likely a 40-millimeter plastic projectile that hit his left eye.

"I'll never be able to see out of this eye and I believe they'll be removing this eye at a certain point," says the bandaged Stevenson.

He still can't watch the news video which captures the entire encounter. It is simply too raw and emotional. However, his friends who were also there on the protest line did and are moved to tears.

"He's closest to the camera," says friend Liz Heehn.

She and friend Jamee Elsayad, say it was a peaceful and non-violent gathering well before the 8:00 p.m. curfew. But what upsets them is that they can recall no police warning or order to disperse.

"There was no, 'we need to move' to a different place, no curfew at this time," Elsayad said. "Nothing, just firing at us."

Student nurses tended to Soren's serious injuries and then rushed him to the nearby M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center.

"He's not the only one getting hurt and something fundamentally needs to change," added Heehn.

The injury will forever change Stevenson's physical appearance. But Soren says it will not alter his resolve to fight injustice.

"No amount of tear gas or rubber bullets will prevent people from standing up for the rights of their brothers and sisters. We won't stop, never," said Soren.

A GoFundMe is gathering donations to help Soren defer medical costs. To learn more about how you can help, click here.

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