I’ve still got a few posts I was hoping to get up over the next few days, before I switch into RNC protest coverage.  Seems me and the St Paul PD aren’t on the same page.  A story hit Infoshop a day or two ago predicting emanate preemptive arrests of protest organizers and other “anarchists”, and well, turns out they weren’t just being paranoid:

As of 11:45 PM CEN time, word from the Twin Cities Indy Media site is that at least one person has been arrested following a police raid of the convergence center, where activists have been meeting and planning for the upcoming RNC.  At least a dozen SPPD officers raided the facility with guns drawn and blocked off the street which accessed the center, detaining everyone who was inside.  Individuals and their possessions were searched, ID’s were scanned and names (etc) were taken down; anyone willing to have their picture taken was released immediately.  The report as of 10:00 (local time) is that the police had no warrant.  From TCIMC:

 

At 9:15 Friday night, the Saint Paul Police entered all doors of the RNC Convergence Space in St. Paul, MN with guns drawn. The Space serves as a community center and organizing space for the upcoming protests against the Republican National Convention. At the time of the raid, people were sitting down to dinner and watching a movie.

The police presented no warrant at the time of the raid, but claim that they have a warrant to search the space for “bomb-making” materials. No “bomb-making” materials were found. Rather, the police barked orders for everyone, including a 5 year old child, to get on the floor with their faces to the ground. Everyone inside was put in handcuffs.

In the hours following, the police photographed everyone inside the space and recorded information from their Identification cards. The police took all personal laptops and hard drives.

One female activist was sexually harassed by a cop who groped her crotch.

The police are claiming that the space must be closed down due to “fire code” violations. According to City Council member Dave Thune, the police do not have the authority to enforce fire code. Only the Fire Department has the power to enforce this code.

A statement released from the RNC Welcoming Committee:

 

“The Ramsey County sheriff’s dept and the SPPD raided the RNC convergence space and detained over 50 people in an attempt to preempt planned protests of the rnc on Monday.

Looking for items found in any twin cities house like jars, paint, and rags, this attempt to portray us as criminals and destroy our credibility has already backfired as evidenced by the masses who have come to support us.

We are now accused of a simple fire code violation -which is outside the scope of the sheriffs department and clearly not justified provocation for a forceful raid with guns being drawn. Children and elderly people were inside the convergence center when the police violently busted down the doors. The police may claim that the raid was executed according to protocol – however, the violence inherent in this action may only be a hint of the violence to be expected on Monday and beyond, and is only a hint at the violence perpetrated daily by the police.

The convergence center is simply a gathering place and is not used for illegal actions – it is a place for workshops and trainings. Tonight we were watching films and sharing food.

This action will not deter us from our plans to protest the RNC on September 1st. We want to invite all people who oppose this police oppression to join us on Septemeber 1st. See you in the streets.”

Awesome.  Now, I’m glad I wasn’t in Denver, but I’m really starting to regret not being in Minnesota.  Much more to come.  The RNC Welcoming Committee has a Saturday morning press conference scheduled.

IMPORTANT UPDATE!:  The raids have continued this morning.  At least three seperate houses in Minneapolis & St Paul have been raided by police, sherifs, FBI agents, and members of the Dept of Homeland Security.  At least one person from Food  Not Bombs has been arrested and charged with four counts of conspiracy, and now TCIMC is reporting that at least another three people have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to incite riots.  Legal observers and lawyers have been on the scene, but it appears to be entire chaos in St Paul.

Also, at least two organizers associated with the convergence space that was raided last night have reported that, while being detained by the police at the convergence “someone” broke into their homes and cars, taking nothing but clearly opening file cabinets and boxes and rifling through various documents and personal belongings.

My personal plea is that the Feds and cops chill out for a couple days: I’m trying to get ready for a BBQ over here and staying glued to my computer for updates and developments is not particularly helpful.

UPDATE #2:  Raids on known homes of activists and radicals have been continuing throughout the Twin Cities in Minnesota all morning and afternoon (the latest one I read about includes cops drawing automatic weapons!); other than last night’s raid on the convergence center, public spaces, such as Twin Cities IMC, aren’t being raided but have seen city and State regulators come through looking for code violations to shut them down.  Time for a beer and some gardening, I’ll keep you updated though.

UPDATE #3:  Members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) were kicked-out (!) of the police press conference regarding the raids and arrests earlier today.  Also, there is no certain number of arrests made (that I’ve seen) but my casual count from a handful of sources would put the number around a dozen, and growing.  In addition, it is being reported that journalists from Indy Media and Democracy Now! have been detained.  A 4:00 PM (MTN Time) press conference has been scheduled (the one planned for this morning doesn’t seem to have happened, most likely because everyone was being detained by the police.

Advertisements