September 1, 2009
By Rady Ananda and Mark Crispin Miller
This may be the first video release on the Twin Cities raids-against legitimate protest at the Republican National Convention. Twin Cities author Jeremy Hubbell provides background info on this decade-long practice. Included is a call to action, with an online petition, mayors’ phone numbers, links and info on upcoming national actions. OpEdNews has been covering the ongoing raids as reported by The Uptake, The Minnesota Independent, and others. Kathlyn Stone has been posting at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Video release by the National Lawyers Guild
Late Tuesday night, at 2:00 a.m. on August 27th, Minneapolis police arrested members of the Glassbead Collective, and searched their rooms, as a pre-emptive measure against protest at the Republican National Convention. Glassbead is a New York City group that documents police misconduct and First Amendment activity around the United States.
Vlad Teichberg, a journalist from Glassbead, reports being detained at 2 am in Minneapolis on August 27th. Notes, computers, cameras, cell phones, clothing, and money were confiscated by police.
NLG attorney Bruce Nestor reports the media group was originally told they were being investigated for recent car burglaries in the neighborhood. They were then questioned about their travel plans. All of the detainees declined consent to a search of their property, but the cops searched those belongings anyway. Later, Nestor was told that he and others were detained for trespassing on railroad property.
Some of the material illegally seized by Minneapolis police last week in “an intelligence operation” contained information regarding other protest groups, including organizers’ names and phone numbers, as well as their schedules and meeting and protest locations. Nestor correctly predicted that the police would use such information to conduct future raids, and further prevent Constitutionally protected protest over the next week.
This August 27th video may be the first video release on the Twin Cities use of Gestapo tactics to subvert First Amendment protest at the RNC.
Teichberg condemns police thuggery, noting there is:
“a systematic system where police are manufacturing accusations. This particular problem can undermine the very essence of our democracy. It is fundamentally un-American and threatens the very fabric of our existence, because if the people who are told to enforce the laws are free to violate those laws, there can be no rule of law. And what do we have? We have a society run by a bunch of thugs with badges.”
Author Jeremy Hubbell on the Minneapolis police
Jeremy Hubbell, who is working on a book about the Twin Cities, advises that the Minneapolis police have been mobilized for just such actions since the late 90’s:
“The behavior of the Minneapolis police was predictable. Since the EarthFirst!, AIM, Medota Dakota, and neighborhood groups used aggressive nonviolence (treesits and lockdowns in buildings scheduled for demolition) to block construction of Hwy 55 through south Minneapolis (mid-1990s to climactic event in Dec 99, Operation Coldsnap), the city rapidly caught up with other metro police forces and their ‘counter-terrorism’ type policing. They got a little too zealous from that point on. In the summer of 2000, e.g., the U of MN hosted the International Society of Animal Genetics conference–and police pre-emptively raided homes of known anti-gmo activists. Incidents have occurred since of this nature. Pre-emptive raids are old hat. Just fyi that this is not ‘new’ in our ‘hasn’t been a free society for a long time nation.’ Not even new in “Nice” Minnesota.
“I should also note: the St. Paul site for the RNC is perfect for controlling protest. If you haven’t seen it or can’t quite appreciate the maps of the site. The Xcel center (the power distributor of the Twin Cities, formerly NSP – Northern States Power) has a moat on three sides due to freeway construction. To get there, you either exit the freeway, or walk downhill from the Cathedral or state capitol. On the east is downtown St. Paul and the Mississippi. Directly east, in fact, is the center of upper class St. Paul – the St. Paul Hotel, Rice Park, and The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra – the most secure section of the city. On the one hand, the geography should allow for an orderly separation of-protesters-from their object without arrest (just have them walk circles on the capitol mall. On the other hand, due to the control, it will be quite easy to make arrests – even easier than it was in NY.”
Online Petition to Halt Police Violence
Via Fernwoods, an on-line petition to protest and halt the violence by police (with frequent updates on the site as well):
Police are suppressing the coverage of events by seizing people’s video cameras. People’s cameras were smashed to the ground and broken. These are not isolated incidents, they represent a pattern of targeting people. We need everyone to video-the activities of the police Department. When we no longer have the freedom of the press, we no longer live in a democracy.
Urgent! Defend Freedom of Speech and Assembly at the RNC!Stand Against Police Repression!
Sign the online petition to send a message to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Police, Bush, Cheney, McCain, RNC, the Minneapolis and St. Paul City Councils, the Minnesota Gov., Congressional Leaders and the media to end the police violence against RNC protesters IMMEDIATELY!
For updates from the streets of Minneapolis-St. Paul, see http://dncrnc.wordpress.com
StopWarOnIran.org – Sept 27 Actions in 100 Cities
As we write, thousands of activists are gathering in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul in preparation for a week of protest during the Republican National Convention. Over the past three days, these activists have been targets of police raids, brutality, and media distortion. Salon reports:
“Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.”
These arrests, days before the beginning of the Republican National Convention, are an attempt to undercut turn-out at the legally permitted anti-war rally planned for Monday, Sept. 1, organized by March on RNC Coalition. The event, which is expected to be massive, will gather at the State Capitol and march to the RNC Convention site. The police, acting on orders from the RNC, clearly intend to use tactics of fear and intimidation to impact the days of protest that have been planned by hundreds of justice and anti-war organizations for more than a year.
It is more important than ever, in the face of the outrageous harassment and illegal arrests, to support ALL the protesters in St Paul this week. Take a minute and send a message in support – go to http://www.troopsoutnow.org/rnc08protestrights.shtml
Police have claimed that protesters intend to engage in acts of violence, but the only criminal and violent acts taking place in the Twin Cities are those being committed by the Ramsey County sheriff’s office and the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments. The illegal and excessive raids, conducted by SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons; the mass preemptive roundups of dissenters; and the attempt to label all protesters as criminals are tactics clearly intended to silence protest. We will not be deterred or intimidated by these tactics.
Please join us in standing up to Bush-McCain-RNC police state tactics. A delegation of Troops Out Now Coalition activists is in Minneapolis-St. Paul and will be participating in the many protests during the week of Sept. 1-4. If you are in the area, please join us–look for Troops Out Now Coalition banners and placards.
Whether you are able to join us in the streets or not, you can still stand with us against police repression. Please sign the petition at http://www.troopsoutnow.org/rnc08protestrights.shtml.
Demand: Stop Illegal Raids and Arrests! Protest is not a crime!
Starhawk asks us to call the Mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Tell them you are outraged by these attacks on dissent. Urge them to let Poor People encamp and to let dissent be heard.
FLOOD THE MAYORS’ OFFICES ASAP
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman- 651-266-8510
Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak (612) 673-2100; (612) 673-3000 outside Minneapolis