oe Garofoli / San Francisco Chronicle & The Huffington Post – 2008-08-31 22:55:11
5 Arrested, Dozens Detained in Pre-RNC Raids
Joe Garofoli / San Francisco Chronicle
ST, PAUL Minn.(August 31, 2008) — Activists planning protests around the Republican National Convention say they are being targeted in a heavy-handed attempt to chill dissent after police arrested five people, detained dozens of others, and seized computers and protest guides in raids Friday night and Saturday on private homes and the major meeting center.
The “RNC Welcoming Committee,” an organization of dozens of activist groups and individuals from around the country, has been planning demonstrations for over a year at the convention. The largest, which activists said could draw up to 50,000 people, is scheduled for Monday, the opening day of the convention.
At around 9:15 p.m. Friday, Ramsey County sheriffs and St. Paul police officers kicked in the door of a former theater in St. Paul that the group had rented as a central planning office, said Lisa Fithian, a nonviolence coordinator working with the protesters. They ordered the 50 people inside onto the floor, where they were handcuffed, photographed and asked for identification, then had their possessions searched.
Police kept at least three laptops, plus schedules and 7,000 “welcoming guides” organizers planned to distribute to people coming to the Twin Cities for demonstrations, Fithian said. Those inside were released within two hours, she said.
On Saturday, police raided four other homes and arrested five people. They were being held at the Hennepin County jail in Minneapolis Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to riot, conspiracy to commit civil disorder and conspiracy to damage property.
“The ‘Welcoming Committee’ is a criminal enterprise made up of 35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said in a statement. “These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers. They have recruited assistance in their criminal conspiracy from other anarchists groups throughout the country.”
Activists who gathered Saturday evening at the Rivertown Events Center, where the Friday night raid occurred, said they were shaken by the raid but not deterred. Some shared stories – and photos – of police arresting and handcuffing other suspected activists around the area.
“I think (Friday night’s raid) was a scare tactic to not go to the big demonstration Monday,” said Monica Trinidad, a 22-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student who was handcuffed outside the center Friday night as she was returning to see what was going on. “But I don’t think it’s going to work.”
Hal Muskat, a 61-year-old San Franciscan and member of Veterans for Peace, said the arrests might attract even more protesters.
“It was a tactic to try and take out the leaders,” he said. “I know some people don’t like to go out in the streets. But when anybody within a 12-hour drive hears about what’s going on here, they’re going to want to be here with us on Monday.”
E-mail Joe Garofoli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Twin Cities Cops Crack Down on Activists
Joe Garofoli / SF Chronicle Blog
St. Paul — Activists in the Twin Cities are really concerned about an ongoing series of police raids Friday night and Saturday that are targeting top organizers behind the “RNC Welcoming Committee” — an umbrella group that has spent the last year planning protests this week. Check out the search warrant.
But this chilling of dissent before the protest goes deeper than the raids. Several people arriving in town for Monday’s demonstration came to the Rivertown Events Center, aka the “Convergence Space,” site of Friday’s raid, to share stories and photos of police pulling over people who fit the profile of activists. A bit of DWAA — driving while anti-authoritarian, if you will. Police can hold the protesters without a charge for 36 hours, I was told, plus weekend time. That would keep them out of action for Monday’s big demonstration.
Said Alexis Baden-Mayer, a Washington, D.C.-based activist who saw the same thing as Cummins: “It makes me think about Monday. Should I go to the convergence? Am I being watched? I wonder if I’ll be safe there. When you see something like that, it makes you wonder all these things.”
Also met David and Cecelia Secor, the parents of Nathanael Secor, one of the activists arrested in the raids. They were in town from their home in suburban Chicago to visit his sister, who lives in the region and him. Cecelia, Nathanael’s mother, said that “he may look like a wacko, with these long dreadlocks down his back, but he’s really a peaceful person,” who regularly cooked meals for the group Food Not Bombs. He had worked as a teacher’s assistant in the Twin Cities area, but had been working fulltime on the protests for the past few months.
He’s a college graduate, “a vegan, very concerned about animal rights, and an Eagle Scout,” said David Secor, who served a two-year hitch in the Army in the late 1960s.
But they were concerned about the upcoming demonstrations. A few weeks ago, Cecelia said, Nathanael told her that “a friend of a friend of a friend” had been approached by the FBI about infiltrating the group.
So far, they haven’t been able to see their son in jail.
RNC Protest Sites Raided By Police:
Five people Arrested and more than 100 Detained in
Raid Targeting the RNC Welcoming Committee
The Huffington Post
(August 31, 2008) — Federal Government Involved In Raids On Protesters: Glenn Greenwald reports that it is increasingly clear the federal government is involved in raids on protesters at the Republican National Convention:
As the police attacks on protesters in Minnesota continue — see this video of the police swarming a bus transporting members of Earth Justice, seizing the bus and leaving the group members stranded on the side of the highway — it appears increasingly clear that it is the Federal Government that is directing this intimidation campaign. Minnesota Public Radio reported yesterday that “the searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office. Deputies coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Today’s Star Tribune added that the raids were specifically “aided by informants planted in protest groups.” Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force — an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI — was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate “vegan groups” and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.
AUG 31 — Protest Groups File Court Order: Protesters try to prevent police from seizing equipment.
(August 31, 2008) — Two organizations said today they filed an emergency motion with the court Saturday to try to prevent police from seizing video equipment and cell phones used to document officers’ conduct….
The release said “examples of police interference with the right to document their conduct” included seizure of equipment in Minneapolis from three journalists with Glass Bead Collective and targeting of journalists during a raid in St. Paul on Saturday.
The National Lawyers’ Guild have volunteers to deter and document police abuse at the RNC.
Ramsey County authorities conducted raids across Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday and Saturday as a pre-emptive strike against disruptive protests of the Republican National Convention.
Five people were arrested and more than 100 were handcuffed, questioned and released by scores of deputies and police officers, according to police and elected officials familiar with the raids.
In a statement Saturday morning, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul raid targeted the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group he described as “a criminal enterprise made up of 35 self-described anarchists…intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention.”
There were five raids conducted over 24 hours, the Minnesota Independent reports.
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