Massive Police Raids-Squashing the Right to Protest and Assembly

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I posted yesterday about one raid in St. Paul, unfortunately there were many other similar raids across the city.  Here is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald with some details about these police raids.

 

“Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.”

 

“Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than “fire code violations,” and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.”

 

Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald went to two of the homes –one had just been raided and the other one was in the process of being raided.  They give us a chilling look and description of what these people went through.

 

“In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as “Do you have Terminator ready?” as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.”

 

Twin Cities Indymedia posted this yesterday: RNC Welcoming Committee Organizers Seek Sanctuary From Illegal Arrests.

 

“Today two members of the RNC Welcoming Committee sought sanctuary from illegal disappearances carried out by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office at the Twin Cities Friends Meeting in St. Paul. Andy Fahlstrom, 27, and Betsy Raasch-Gilman, 56, appealed to the meeting for sanctuary following the arrests of five other Welcoming Committee members on Saturday, August 30. Warrants for the “search” of two other members have been made public – others have been “searched” and then arrested and held without bail for “probable cause.” Many have been snatched on the street by plainclothes officers.

“In the past two days we have seen numerous instances of police harassment and arrest of Bushville campers on Harriett Island, independent journalists, and now the arrest on false pretenses of activists who have worked for over two years, in the open, to provide support for public dissent this week,” said Raasch-Gilman.

Dr. Kirk, from firedoglake.com has a few words on this attack of our Free Speech.

“Frontline du jour in corporatist America’s seemingly endless War On The Commons. Congress – with eager support from Senator Amy Klobuchar – put out a trough of 50 million dollars to pull local “law” enforecement into the RNC feeding frenzy.  As Amy K helpfully pointed out, Congress also set out 50 million troughs for local cops before the nominating convention in Denver last week and those in Boston and New York in 2004. That’s on top of the tens (hundreds?) of millions for the Federal “Fusion Centers” and the FBI, Fatherland Homeland Security, Secret Service, and our very own Pentagon’s Northcom — the domestic strong arm of General Smedley Butler’s enforcement racket—to criminalize public assembly and speech during yet another major party coronation. Why do America’s corporatist controlled organs of “State Security” need to pay hundreds of millions every four years to keep paper maché puppets off the streets and out of the parks?

Update from Glenn Greenwald at http://www.salon.com:

“The Uptake also has several reports of the various raids, including video of the raid at the property whose owner Bernstein spoke with as the raid occurred. That video includes an interview with a lawyer from the National Lawyer’s Guild who was detained and put in handcufffs, explaining that the surrounded house is one where various journalists are staying. Additionally, a photojournalist with Democracy Now was detained at that house as well. So, both journalists and lawyers — in addition to protesters — have been detained and arrested even though not a single violent or criminal act has occurred.”

In the end, the strongest stand we can take to reclaim our Republic, protect our Constitution, continue three centuries of empowerment, and support the social justice movement is the stand we take with our own two feet. We might stand in the soup kitchen, or in the medic stations. We might stand with the legal observers, or the media observers. We might stand with the marchers — or stand to open our front doors and back doors and garages when they are beaten or gassed off the streets. Or stand to open our places of worship and other sanctuaries to the innocent people fleeing the tyranny of mass arrest and mass raids.

Why stand together with them? Should we fail, we will only live in fear of the corporatist tyranny that can and does show the power to snatch us away, serially and separately.

The Twin Cities show us all one future. Together, we can choose another.

http://firedoglake.com/2008/08/30/the-history-of-breaking-up-protests-before-they-can-happen-how-cops-have-spent-years-squashing-the-right-to-assembly-and-free-speech/

 

3 thoughts on “Massive Police Raids-Squashing the Right to Protest and Assembly

  1. Warrentless Wiretapping at its finest.

    We live in a de facto dictatorship. This is proof.

    Freedom of speech – gone.
    Freedom of the press – gone.
    Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure – gone.
    Right to due process before being deprived of liberty or property – gone.
    Right to an attorney – gone (your lawyer’s been arrested, too)
    Right to know the charges against you – gone.

    If these people are deemed “enemy combatants” they may not be released until a non-Republican President assumes power.

  2. This is terrifying.

    Have the people who have been arrested or “disappeared” been able to speak to their attorneys? Have they been in contact with anyone?

  3. Zooey, attorneys are flying in there to help out. The bad part is that some of the people arrested are the attorneys that came to be observers of the RNC protests.

    I just can’t believe how bad this has become and there have been more arrests today already. Last I heard 9 people.

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