'68 Redux? (And Home Raids)

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Forgive the hyperbolic title and read on:

St. Paul police fired chemical agents and projectiles into a large crowd of protesters outside the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night.

Witnesses said the protesters marched from the grounds of the state Capitol after a concert there ended abruptly.

The protesters were noisy but peaceful as they approached the convention. Once they arrived, a police officer read an order to disperse, CNN reporters on the scene said.

But almost immediately, officers along the exit route opened fire with gas and projectiles. In one instance, a CNN producer said, an officer stepped out of line to hit a young woman with pepper spray as she ran for the exit. 

Police said officers were trying to scatter protesters who they said were trying to get past security fences.

Police told the AP that about 2,000 people participated in the anti-poverty march, which lasted about three hours.

Other officers used gas and pepper spray in the path of those attempting to comply with the disperse order, forcing some to stop in their tracks, a CNN crew reported.

If this were a Mastercard spot, it would read as follows:

  • Overtime pay for 3,500 St. Paul police officers: $34 million.
  • Training 3,500 officers to handle a peace protest: $16 million.                                       
  • Responding with excessive force to rowdy peaceniks in the name of "national security": Priceless. 

I love the smell of pepper spray during convention season.

Addendum: Senior Editor Radley Balko may have linked to this here, but Ethan wanted more, more, more! And I think I can agree that raids on private homes deserve something special

Four people were arrested at two Minneapolis homes and booked on probable cause of conspiracy to commit a riot, said Gina Berglund, an attorney helping to represent protesters. There were no arrests at a third home targeted. Later, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office said a fifth person was arrested at an undisclosed location.

"A lot of people in the activist community are really on pins and needles about who's next," Berglund said.

Protester Michelle Gross said a fourth home, this one in St. Paul, was being raided Saturday afternoon. Two people were outside the home in handcuffs while police awaited a search warrant, she said. St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said a search warrant was being executed but could not confirm whether anyone had been arrested.

No jokes at the ready, just shivers up and down my state-wary spine. 

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  1. Why would anyone march against poverty?

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to march in favor of a certain policy against poverty?

    And what working policy has anyone found?

  2. Why would anyone march against poverty?

    Down with poor people!

  3. I was reporting on this demonstration. The news account is basically accurate. Here are the photographs.

    However, by the time the crowd got to the intersection where I was, they quiet. There was no chanting or yelling. They were so subdued and so well-hemmed in by police that I didn’t even realize they were demonstrating. The teargas was an unprovoked attack, plain and simple.

  4. Well I’m glad human rights aren’t just baffled abroad…I can sleep better at night from now on!!!
    http://mylifeiscrap.com

  5. My next door neighbor was one of the first to be arrested by the police during the protests and ended up in one of those AP photographs, which I find to be adorable.

  6. I am not sure what is worse. That this happens all the time or that most people do not give a shit.

    “Oh look honey the police are stopping people from protesting, Hey look dancing with the stars is on.”

  7. My next door neighbor was one of the first to be arrested by the police during the protests and ended up in one of those AP photographs, which I find to be adorable.

    Everyone needs a good action photograph of them being arrested as part of some media event, for the scrapbook. I know mine makes me look a lot more sinister than I am.

    It lets the kids know you care. πŸ™‚

  8. Getting arrested at a protest is like being caught having sex in public: you do it to boost your image.

  9. Has anything about the police raids of homes near the convention appeared in Hit & Run?

  10. Everyone needs a good action photograph of them being arrested as part of some media event, for the scrapbook. I know mine makes me look a lot more sinister than I am.

    It lets the kids know you care. πŸ™‚

    I think if I where to one day break my “never protest for anything, EVER” rule and get photographed getting arrested at a protest, I’ll use the pic for my Christmas cards I send out.

  11. Has anything about the police raids of homes near the convention appeared in Hit & Run?

    I keep mentioning it, but none of the editors have latched on yet. I think one of them did a *by the way* mention of it in one of the convention posts, but no article of its own.

  12. Getting arrested at a protest is like being caught having sex in public: you do it to boost your image.

    Even if that isn’t your intention, it definitely has that effect.

  13. 50 Million to keep a bunch of self important dickholes from having to read poorly made poster-board signs doesn’t seem like a good value.

  14. I think one of them did a *by the way* mention of it in one of the convention posts, but no article of its own

    Since there are conflicting reports about actual violence being perpetrated by the protesters, the staff may be waiting until they have some concrete information before posting about it.

    Supposedly the CT GOP delegation had their bus hit with cinderblocks and had some nasty, staining substance sprayed on them. I heard this on the radio.

  15. I keep mentioning it, but none of the editors have latched on yet. I think one of them did a *by the way* mention of it in one of the convention posts, but no article of its own.

    Since it’s been pretty extensively covered in the blogosphere, is it really necessary to have a separate article on it here? I mean, we are discussing it right now. We’re libertarians for chrissakes. We can discuss it in whatever thread we like.

  16. Gee, if I was in charge of the GOP convention, I’d let these commie pinko demonstrators overwhelm a patient police line, storm the convention center and raise hell in the hall on national tv. And have my toadies scattered throughout the mob with Obama signs. We wouldn’t even need to bother counting the votes in November.

  17. FWIW, the AV club is covering the convention, and in their blog the writer mentions just missing seeing a brick go through the rear window of a cop car. But he also emphasizes that the marches he saw were peaceful, with just a few anarchist wankers splitting off to break things.

  18. Gee, if I was in charge of the GOP convention, I’d let these commie pinko demonstrators overwhelm a patient police line, storm the convention center and raise hell in the hall on national tv. And have my toadies scattered throughout the mob with Obama signs. We wouldn’t even need to bother counting the votes in November.

    So they would give the illusion that they have absolutely no ability to hold a simple event?

  19. There are some morons protesting at the Republican convention for self indulgent reasons. Some of theses malcontents desire mayhem.

    There are some committed peaceful protesters at the Republican convention who are concerned about the turn towards authoritarianism the Bush administration has amply demonstrated, as well as supporting the usual socialist agenda.

    There are loud and obnoxious protesters at ther Republican convention who just consider the whole damned thing a street party.

    The mindset of the authorities seems to be intimidate and do violence to all three groups. To small minds threats intimidation and demonstrating who’s boss is perceived as the best way to ensure public safety. I’ll wager that no attempt was made by the authorities to meeet with protest leaders and discuss ways to avoid unpleasant incidents and confrontations. I guess LEO tough guys prefer intimidation and confrontation to discussing violence avoidance strategies with “little people”, AKA citizens.

    I expect immature behavior from lefty protesters, but I expect public servants to act more maturely than this.

  20. Daniel, I am forced to conclude that you are either a complete fucking idiot, or a deliberate liar. I think that whether you’re an idiot or a liar, you’re definitely a cunt.

    Mike Riggs posts an article claiming that a protest march held on September 2nd was peaceful. You decide to try to argue against that claim by posting stories about an incident that took place ON SEPTEMBER FUCKING FIRST.

    So in Daniel’s world, if someone shoves somebody on September 1st, that makes a protest that occurs on A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DAY “violent”.

    By that logic, the police should be allowed to go to your house and cave your skull in with a baseball bat because fifteen years ago somebody else committed a crime.

    Fuck you, loser.

  21. Mike Riggs posts an article claiming that a protest march held on September 2nd was peaceful. You decide to try to argue against that claim by posting stories about an incident that took place ON SEPTEMBER FUCKING FIRST.

    So Day 1:

    “We’re going to hold a peaceful protest”

    ‘OK’

    *SMASH*

    And then Day 2

    “We’re going to hold a peaceful protest”

    ‘Fool me once…’

  22. So Day 1:

    “We’re going to hold a peaceful protest”

    ‘OK’

    *SMASH*

    And then Day 2

    “We’re going to hold a peaceful protest”

    ‘Fool me once…’

    In other words, the police should be able to break into my house and search for drugs because I used marijuana once in college? It’s the same idiotic argument.

  23. The events are *A DAY APART*

    The whole ‘back in college’ is an idiotic argument

  24. … an idiotic metaphor

  25. Those poor Republicans! What if one of them actually started to think?

  26. The events are *A DAY APART*

    The whole ‘back in college’ is an idiotic argument

    I’m bored, I’ll play along.

    Yesterday I broke the speed limit on my way home from work. Lets say I get pulled over this morning and am given a ticket because I “sped yesterday and am probably going to speed today”. Fair?

  27. FWIW, I have no defense of the home raids and find them odious.

  28. Andrew-

    If you were going 65 in a 45 yesterday the cop would pull you over and give you a ticket.

    If today he clocked you doing 47 in a 45, and saw it was the same car – even if your sister was driving – he probably pull the car over and give a ticket as well, even though he would let most people pass at that level.

  29. Police said officers were trying to scatter protesters who they said were trying to get past security fences.

    Of course, my argument relies on this being true.

    But almost immediately, officers along the exit route opened fire with gas and projectiles. In one instance, a CNN producer said, an officer stepped out of line to hit a young woman with pepper spray as she ran for the exit.

    But there’s no excuse for this. It reminds of that jerkoff cop that knocked over that bicyclist. (and I think critical mass rallies are filled with assholes, but still no excuse for that based on the video I saw)

  30. even though he would let most people pass at that level.

    Are you saying the laws are enforced in an arbitrary and inconsistent way, based on the mood of the individual cop at the time?

    Why, that sounds like petty vindictiveness.

  31. Homemade bombs explode

    Near Mickey’s Diner, protesters exploded three homemade bombs near police. officers responded with tear gas and smoke bombs.

    http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7345705&version=18&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1

    Hardly unprovoked action by the police.

  32. Lets say I get pulled over this morning and am given a ticket because I “sped yesterday and am probably going to speed today”. Fair?

    Isn’t it more like “I’m giving you a ticket because someone else sped here yesterday”?

  33. Supposedly the CT GOP delegation had their bus hit with cinderblocks and had some nasty, staining substance sprayed on them. I heard this on the radio.

    You didn’t read the links posted a few comments earlier than you posted that?

  34. No one seems to be taking the Cathy Young role, so I’ll give it a shot:

    Absolutely NO ONE, police or protesters, is looking good in all this. While most protesters are undoubtedly peaceful, it seems clear that SOME of the police action is justified. Hurling ANYTHING off an overpass at vehicles moving at or near highway speeds is seriously fucking dangerous, as but one example.

  35. You didn’t read the links posted a few comments earlier than you posted that?

    Nope. Am I required to read every link someone puts up? Especially links put up not as embedded hyperlinks?

  36. No jokes at the ready, just shivers up and down my state-wary spine.

    Yep. Its a real shame that the Protest-American community contains just enough idiots to make pre-emptive arrests marginally defensible.

  37. The same “Anonymous” coward has been jacking every one of these threads with links to unrelated reports.

    In his drug-warrior-esque mind, the fact that some people over here did something wrong makes it acceptable – no, heroic – for the police to bash a completely different group of people over here.

    Go wash our your brown shirt, asshole.

  38. There is, of course, no evidence or even claims that any of the police recognize specific individuals who had been involved in violent activity, but because they’re supposedly “leftists,” any group of them will do as well as any other.

    Perhaps the police should start applying this logic to people who keep and bear arms. I can put up tons of links to stories about gun owners who shot somebody.

  39. I think this is as good a place as any to reiterate that a lot of the problem here germinates in our Supreme Court’s idiotic and unjust finding that it’s OK to place “time, place and manner” restrictions on exercises of the First Amendment.

    Essentially the courts have ruled that you can’t hold a protest unless the state says you can, which is the exact opposite of what the First Amendment says.

    As a result, we have continual game-playing by authorities to try to insure that no protest ever succeeds in actually being noticed by the people being protested against. This game-playing is met by protest group defiance and evasion, which is met in turn by police response. Both sides escalate their behavior in a Darwinian process.

  40. Fluffy’s got it. There should be no restrictions on these people’s right to peacefully assemble in public wherever they want to. If the police see a particular person committing a particular crime, they should arrest him, but otherwise they have no place interfering with these people, no matter how stupid their causes are and how pointless the protests.

  41. There were also protestors smashing windows and over turning planters. So, a pox on any police who attack peaceful protestors and a pox on any protestors who act violently. On the plus side, thumbs up to the protestors who actually stay peaceful and thumbs up to officers who maintain the peace without excessive force.

  42. Is it just for cops to punish a community or group of people for something one or a few people did? Isn’t it similar to the way Israel deals with Palestine? Seems to me like it’s just another example of militarism in America and the paramilitary’s lack of love for the Constitution.

    It’s fair game for the cops to go after people throwing things or actually trying to harm them. But hurting people that did not attempt to hurt them means they are breaking the law.

  43. You are judged by the company you keep. And “peaceful” protestors have a long and sordid history of keeping company with militants. Violent nihilists tag along for every protest, but the “peaceful” do nothing to discourage it. Their overly tolerant attitude is getting them into trouble. I remember in San Francisco recently when some guy with a black mask threw a molotov at a building. When the police arrested him, the “peaceful” crowd started shouting at the police! They didn’t want the violence stopped!

    The “peaceful” faction wants an incident. They want to get on the news. They want the police to be seen as a symbol of evil horrible Republicanism. And so they do nothing to stop the violence. The more cynical might even suspect them of encouraging it.

  44. -Lindsay Beyerstein | September 3, 2008, 4:35am

    Didn’t you used to write for Alternet? The comments are way better here!

  45. “””You are judged by the company you keep. And “peaceful” protestors have a long and sordid history of keeping company with militants.””””

    By the same standard, cops should be judged by the company they keep. If they refuse to report bad cops they should be treated like a bad cop. No?

    I much more prefer the individual responsiblity model than that above.

  46. Four people were arrested at two Minneapolis homes and booked on probable cause of conspiracy to commit a riot, said Gina Berglund, an attorney helping to represent protesters.

    Emphasis mine.
    All I have to say is: What. The. Fuck?!!?!?!?!
    Orwell would be proud. What the hell is “probable cause to commit” anything?

  47. TrickyVic,

    If they refuse to report bad cops they should be treated like a bad cop.

    Yes. They’re either complicit or committing infractions themselves, in that case.

    Episiarch,

    Especially links put up not as embedded hyperlinks?

    Yeah. Not hyperlinked.

    Fluffy,

    try to insure that no protest ever succeeds in actually being noticed by the people being protested against.

    Yeah, unless they, like, watch TV or something. Or read anything their opponents write. What’s wrong with not protesting at all? Doesn’t send the right revolution message? Well, if not, we’ll just have to keep working on dissolving property rights. Exploiting people is wrong.

    joe,

    The same “Anonymous” coward has been

    I guess you don’t get the concept behind anonymity, do you? A fascist wouldn’t, no, I realize that. Your police state has trouble with that, too. At least babies get aborted on time in your fantasy world!

  48. Humm, guilty by association?

    Cops that ignore the doings of bad cops are part of the problem, granted. But they are not the problem. Why should people be held accountable for action of others? If you believe it’s ok, then where is the line? If your neighbor is selling drugs, can the cops arrest or shoot you too? Can a cop ticket you when the guy next to you was speeding?

    If your handing rocks to a guy throwing rocks, that’s a different story.

  49. “””Orwell would be proud. What the hell is “probable cause to commit” anything?”””

    Orwell would be shaking his head screaming to the sky “I tried to warn you idiots!!”

    INGSOC would be proud, and in a tongue and cheek way, so would these people.
    http://www.studentsfororwell.org/

    I really doubt probably cause to commit is a crime. What they probably meant was that the cops had probably cause to arrest them for conspiracy to commit a riot. Which may or may not be true.

    I wonder if these people were targeted as a result of the FBI’s new assessment program.

  50. TrickyVic @ 3:32pm: You said “refused.” That means they have reason to take action, but don’t. You didn’t say anything about honest police without any colleague criminal conduct to withhold. Those that act bad or are hiding bad acts are guilty by their actions, not by their associations.

    Additionally, I’d like to hear more from the “this was illegal police action” crowd, since they have the incentive to do the best research, who exactly told whom what to do and when regarding the searches and seizures. I assume they had warrants, rather than relying on whatever probable cause statutes fiat one unnecessary; let’s see them and dissect the logic of their issuance.

  51. Doesn’t send the right revolution message? Well, if not, we’ll just have to keep working on dissolving property rights.

    Who said anything about dissolving property rights?

    Obviously no one has a right to protest on anyone else’s property.

    But we’re talking about public streets and sidewalks.

    As far as I can determine, the state is using the “time, place and manner” leeway given them by the courts to effectively turn all of downtown St. Paul into the private property of the Republican National Committee. That’s what I object to.

    If you’re holding an event in a private space, and I want to protest that event, I should have access to all public space up to the property line for your private space. Don’t like that? Get a really, really big private space for your event so I’m far enough away that you can’t hear me.

  52. The “peaceful” faction wants an incident.

    Like I said, to me this is part of the logic of escalation.

    Say I want to walk down a public street and protest something.

    I start to do this with a bunch of like-minded people.

    We reach a police cordon and the police say, “You don’t have Permit X so we order you to disperse or else!”

    Now, I don’t think they are entitled to demand that I go get Permit X. So what’s my emotional reaction to this demand? Well, although I would almost certainly remain peaceful myself out of prudence, if I see someone throw a rock at the cops or try to break through their line to continue on the other side, I am going to think, “Good! Fuck them!” And I have to be honest: I don’t think that’s an inappropriate emotional reaction to have.

    I think these “violent encounters with police” are often violent precisely because they’re encounters with police.

  53. I don’t know how to comment on how these people act, but if I did it would have something to do with all attendees being armed.

    (And that I agree with everything @ 4:14pm.)

  54. “”TrickyVic @ 3:32pm: You said “refused.” That means they have reason to take action, but don’t. “””

    Not necessarily true. Cops often refuse when they don’t have reason to take action. They just do it because they don’t want to say anything bad about another cop, hearsay or eyewitness account. Just because you witness something doesn’t make you party to that which you witnessed.

  55. I am not sure what is worse. That this happens all the time or that most people do not give a shit.

    By doing what, demonstrating? GO TO 1

  56. A relatively simple way to greatly reduce the problem of both violent, unruly, protestors, and thuggish riot police would be to
    privatize public lands.
    Then the property owners get to decide whether they want to allow a bunch of protestors on their land. Sure, they might not allow people with opposing political views to protest on their land, but that’s not a violation of first amendment rights, since it is private property. They definitely would discriminate against protest groups who tend to get violent, out of concern for property damage and liability issues. This would create an incentive for protest groups to keep a peaceful track record.
    Overall, this would probably reduce the number of public protests, but I don’t think that that is such a bad thing. Public protests are largely pointless, especially in the age of the internet. If the purpose of the protest is to disseminate information to people, there are more efficient ways to do it than protesting. If the purpose of the protest is to harass people, block traffic, and force your viewpoints down other people’s throats, then good riddance to the protests.

  57. TrickyVic | September 3, 2008, 3:42pm | #

    Orwell would be shaking his head screaming to the sky “I tried to warn you idiots!!”

    INGSOC would be proud, and in a tongue and cheek way, so would these people.

    Errm, yeah. Brain not working today.

  58. If the purpose of the protest is to harass people, block traffic, and force your viewpoints down other people’s throats, then good riddance to the protests.

    I disagree.

    This is the motivation underlying Court rationalizations behind “time, place and manner restrictions” on speech.

    And what it boils down to – when all is said and done – is: “If people could protest on the street whenever they want to, it would be inconvenient for me and my car.”

    Restrictions on political activity that pre-1900 generations would have found onerous and tyrannical are accepted by modern Americans because to modern Americans nothing is more important than their fucking automobile.

    So this is Reason #235654 in the list of ways in which forcing our society into a mold suited to the automobile has empowered the state and destroyed liberty.

    Personally, I don’t accept “compelling state interest” doctrine anyway. But even if I did, I really don’t see making sure you can predict how long a drive will take as an interest compelling enough to throw out the 1st Amendment and let the police mace political activists and throw them in jail. If the automobile society cannot be run smoothly in an environment in which people are free of restraints on their political activity, too fucking bad for the automobile society, as far as I am concerned. Since this is a distinctly minority view and since such a change in our case law can never be made, I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with the occasional cop catching a bottle in the head instead.

  59. You never see Republicans protesting against the Dems. Could it because we have more class & manners? Oh, we have jobs to go to during the day, thats it.

  60. This police-caused riot is a joke, and federal laws were violated. (18 USC 242-244)

    In 2003 I was at the Colorado Springs anti-Iraq War Rally there. Protestors had their so-called permit and were 10K strong, and were not violent. Then the CSPD decided that they would revoke the permit (which they had no authority to do) and ordered the crowd to disperse. The crowd was walking to the rally parking lot when the cops launched the tear gas cannisters from behind the crowd into the parking lot. Evidently the thousands of people weren’t dispersing fast enough.

    The point is that the cops starting it and blaming the protestors is a common and old police abuse tactic. Hell, LA Rampart had made it into an art form! And the First Amendment trumps any and all illiterate courts, and most of them are most of the time, the cops are almost always out of line. Ask Amy Goodman, who was arrested for exercising her own right to ask to speak to a cop supervisor. She did nothing wrong, and it’s on tape, too.

    Welcome to Amerika. Papers, please? Zank You. WHAP!

    BTW, “probable cause of conspiracy to commit” anything is just pure bullshit for “standing there and breathing.” It’s a maybe of a maybe of a maybe.

    And the post by creech raises a political tactic–if the protesters get in and are given enough rope, they would hang themselves, making the pathetic GOP look good. The LP would point out that the GOP for all of their security talk can’t get the job done and the DP provoked the rioters.

    Meanwhile,how many arrest at the R4R? None…and more people showed up there, too…tells me the GOP is definitely on the wrong side of those issues…and the MSM coverage is little to non-existent, as usual…

  61. No, Marji, it’s that GOPeons are too stupid and cowardly to protest anything. It’s a side effect from the neocon Kool-aid overdosing.

  62. Strange..I thought we had freedom of speech and a right to redress your government. I guess the constitution is just a piece of paper in this new fascist state we find ourselves in. I wonder if Martin Luther King would be proud that things have not changed for the better.

  63. Strange..I thought we had freedom of speech and a right to redress your government.

    1. The ability to maliciously slander government executives on US soil and servers is proof of that. And though that’s not any form of redress, it goes farther than any legitimate crticisms have to.

    2a. Protests are best provoking a response from which to learn something (for the issues involved can’t be new to anybody). What did we learn here? The police tried to prevent violence after learning of groups specifically out to cause it, and yet bleach was thrown and cub scouts were harrassed.

    2b. Lesson: protesters are violent criminals (who, based on interviews at the RNC, don’t even know what they’re protesting) and police are ineffective against them. Arming individuals seems the sensible thing to do, agreed?

    I wonder if Martin Luther King would be proud that things have not changed for the better.

    I am certain that he would not approve of the way certain black candidates drag his ideals through the mud in order to support their vacuous campaign. Or, to continue on that track, that said candidates use legal force to stifle criticism.

    But regarding police action, I have to seriously question comparing an MLK march — however wrong-headed or noble you think it might be — to an “anarchist” demonstration of vandalism. One indicated police provocation with the presence of attendees. The other indicated… what, exactly?

  64. I was looking for a link to support my claim about Obama filing a lawsuit, but I can’t find anything in the dross of links about suits against him (now that’s the way to Google-bomb your way out of something). I may have been thinking of somebody else.

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