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St. Paul Police Conduct Mass Pre-Emptive Raids Ahead of Republican Convention
Monday, September 1, 2008 :Armed groups of police in the Twin Cities have raided more than half a dozen locations since Friday night in a series of "pre-emptive raids" before the Republican National Convention. The raids and detentions have targeted activists planning to protest the convention as well as journalists and videographers documenting police actions at protests.
Five Minnesotan activists are still detained on “probable cause holds,” which means they can be held for 36 hours without charge, excluding weekends and public holidays.
Armed groups of police in the Twin Cities have raided more than half a dozen locations since Friday night in a series of “pre-emptive raids” before the Republican National Convention. The coordinated searches were led by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher but conducted in coordination with federal agencies.
Five Minnesotan activists are still detained on “probable cause holds,” which means they can be held for 36 hours without charge, excluding weekends and public holidays. According to this timeline they would not be released before Wednesday. The Sheriff called them “criminal anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention.”
The raids and detentions have targeted activists planning to protest the Republican National Convention as well as journalists and videographers documenting police actions at protests. Groups directly affected by the raids include Food Not Bombs, the RNC Welcoming Committee, I-Witness Video, and Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Democracy Now! spoke to Michelle Gross from Communities United Against Police Brutality on Sunday. She was at the activist “convergence space” on Friday night when it was raided.
Gross was held for 45 minutes and then released. But when she returned home she found her home and car had been broken into and all her documents thoroughly searched.
Democracy Now!’s Elizabeth Press and I-Witness Video Founder Eileen Clancy were among those detained in one of the raids in St. Paul on Saturday afternoon. We arrived on the scene soon afterward. Eileen Clancy spoke to us and other reporters from the backyard of the house where she was being held along with her colleagues.
The National Lawyers Guild and Communities United Against Police Brutality filed an emergency motion Sunday asking Judge Mark Wernick to grant “injunctive relief to prevent police from seizing video equipment and cellular phones used to document their conduct.” The groups sought a temporary restraining order on police to stop them from illegally detaining journalists and confiscating equipment.
I’m joined in St. Paul by Bruce Nestor from the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. I’m also also joined by Coleen Rowley. She worked as an FBI special agent for almost 24 years. In 2002 she was named Time Magazine"s Person of the Year after she blew the whistle on pre-9/11 intelligence failures.
Coleen Rowley, worked as an FBI special agent for almost 24 years. In 2002 she was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year after she blew the whistle on pre-9/11 intelligence failures. She lives just outside Minneapolis.
Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 :Federal and local police forces carried out five raids over the weekend aimed at stifling and intimidating protesters preparing to take part in demonstrations during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Armed police used battering rams to break down doors, then cuffed and forced people to floors.
They searched and seized property, including computers, political literature and a variety of household items alleged to be used as weapons to disrupt the RNC proceedings scheduled for the week of September 1-4.
The raids were spearheaded by the Ramsey County Sheriffs office and brought together the FBI and the police departments of St. Paul and the neighboring city of Minneapolis where three raids were conducted. Late on Friday, August 29, police raided an old St. Paul theatre near the downtown venue for the RNC. Dubbed the convergence center, the building was being used by the protest group, RNC Welcoming Committee, to provide meeting spaces for organizations planning demonstrations during the convention. Sammy Schutz, was in the building when the raid took place, along with her five-year-old son and husband, and told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, I heard somebody saying, Theyre coming, theyre coming! And feet pounding on the back stairs, pounding on the door saying they had a search warrant. They busted through the door. Theyve got their guns cocked at people....
Protesters were told that if they did not produce ID, and permit their pictures to be taken, they would be arrested. Ultimately, all were released and the building was boarded up and closed supposedly on the grounds of code violations.Read More