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Police Conduct Massive Raids, Arrests, Property Seizures at RNC; Demos to Go On
Anti-RNC Activists respond to police raids
by Lydia Howell Aug. 30, 2008 3pm Minneapolis, MN
Ramsey County Sheriffs Department didn't stop with their raid and shut down of anarchist protest group, RNC-Welcoming Committee's St. Paul convergence center on Friday, August 29. From around 9am to noon, on Saturday morning they crossed the river to hit at least three homes in south Minneapolis.
Activists are calling for the peace and justice community to come to a press conference at 4pm today (Saturday) at the RNC-WC Convergence Center, in St. Paul, to condemn the raids.
Word went out via the Internet and cell phone messages and about 150 activists gathered at Powderhorn Park to share eye witness accounts of the raids and plan the activist community responses.
Eyewitnesses described being made to lie on the floor for hours and that police had a broad search warrant that netted no weapons at all. However, police seized lap top computers, a big laminated St. Paul map, and political literature.
A St. Paul building inspector on the scene closed the building Friday night. After St. Paul City Council-member, Dave Thune expressed objections, the center at 627 Smith Avenue South, at Wyoming, is being allowed to reopen Saturday afternoon.
Four RNC-WC members were arrested and are being held without bail on various "conspiracy" charges. Civil liberties advocates note that such a charge is termed "the prosecutor's friend", as "conspiracy" often amounts to little more than allegations with no concrete evidence.
At the Powderhorn Park gathering, news of the south Minneapolis raids continued to come in. The raided homes were: Food Not Bombs home, at 23rd Avenue; the Harriet House on 35th Avenue; a home on 17th Avenue, where three arrests were made, including one with no bail for "probable cause".
The search warrant for the raids included such items as: puppets, nails,, screws, electronic equipment fromm cell phones to
I-pods, vegetable oil, and "gray water". A building inspector at the house on 1734-17th Avenue South was said to have ordered the home boarded closed. Minneapolis City Council-members, Elizabeth Glidden and Cam Gordon were being contacted about the raids on homes in their wards.
Longtime activist and south Minneapolis resident Dave Bicking said he observed "Police were taking mattress pads and other items out of the garage" of one of the raided houses.
Another activist said she returned home Friday evening from the St. Paul raid to find her garage broken into. Since expensive athletic equipment remained untouched, while file boxes were strewn about, she felt law enforcement were responsible.
Undercover law enforcement had been at the activists health center and legal assistance space, but, by noon had left.
Ramsey County Sheriffs issued a press statement, that National Lawyers Guild member Jordan Kushner, read to the gathering, which included allegations not substantiated by any specifics, such as calling the RNC-WC "a criminal enterprise intent on criminal acts before and after the Republican National Convention".
"We now know how St. Paul intends to respond to the people exercising our rights of free speech--with an abuse of power, "said one spokeswoman to the crowd of mostly young people at Powderhorn. "But, we also have our power to act and we call on the community to stand with us and condemn these actions. We will not be stopped by these raids. We will be in the streets on Monday."
The press conference will be at 4pm, Saturday, Aug. 30 at the RNC-WC Convergence Center at 627 Smith Avenue South in St. Paul.
RNC protesters Legal Help Hotline number is: 651.356.8635. Housing of out-of-town activists remains needed. If you can help: Housing Number, 612.419.7809. In order to expedite housing arrangements,we are hoping to shift from the housing board to this number. If you have housing to offer, please email wc_orientation [at] riseup.net
Lydia Howell is producer/host of Catalyst on KFAI Radio and an
independent Minneapolis journalist.