August 31, 2008
-- by John Emerson
FDL 11 There have been mass arrests, but many have been released almost immediately. Some of the Uptake video people have been arrested.
UPDATE: (5:20 CDT) Apparently there will mass arrests now, and a large part of St. Paul has been closed off to traffic.
UPDATE: (5:00 CDT)
FDL 10. Video of "violence breaking out". Someone has speculated that the police raids before Monday frightened off most of the peaceful demonstrators, producing a smaller but more militant demonstration.
Ellen Goodman of Democracy Now! has been arrested.
(4:00 CDT): FDL 9. One group of protestors is blocking traffic and doing vandalism, and tear gas gas definitely been used. The Jail and hospital where protesters have been taken are locked down -- no one can have any contact with them. I haven't even seen a ball park estimate of how many arrests, but it seems to be in the dozens [over a hundred now I would guess, but I haven't seen an informed estimate].
UPDATE: (3:30 CDT) It looks as though the National Guard has come in. In any case the Uptake video shows camo rather than police uniforms. (3:54 CDT): It seems that there has been considerable disruption of traffic, and also that the police / Guard are preparing some sort of assault. Pepper spray has been used and reportedly tear gas also.
UPDATE (2:24 CDT): Quite a number of people have been pepper sprayed and/or arrested, including at least two reporters/ photographers from the mainstream media.
The police at the Republican Convention have been beefed up with federal money, and they've already made preemptive arrests of protest leaders. I have no special sources or independent information, but I've gathered some links so I can keep on top of what's happening, and I thought I'd share them.
Ramsey County Sheriff Fletcher seems to be the local heavy. Fletcher is under investigation himself for corruption, and it's quite possible that he's now cooperating with Federal law enforcement in order to set up a plea bargain. Federal law enforcement is definitely involved. (Ramsey county includes St. Paul, but city police would normally handle this kind of thing and if I am correct, Fletcher was not called in by the city. In many American cities the police are almost autonomous, and not really under the control of civilian officials, and that may be the case at the moment).
I don't have a link, but I read somewhere that informants are only paid if there are actual arrests, so the potential for provocation is very high.
UPDATE (Mon. a.m.): There's still almost no national coverage, either of the demonstrations or of the raids. I'd post something if I could find it. Send me links if you see them.
So far intimidation and harassment seems to be the police strategy, with relatively few actual arrests.( In one case a houseful of unarmed college-age potential protesters was raided by about 25 heavily-armed, armored police. The Police have infiltrated the groups and their intelligence is very good, and they knew that they had nothing to fear.) The goal seems to be to cripple the groups by confiscating cell phones, cameras, video equipment, computers, and various other things. It may be that media and lawyers are especially being targeted.
Firedoglake 6. The police presence in the Twin Cities has been federalized and is being orchestrated by Homeland Security, the FBI, et al (with the help of $50,000,000 authorized by a Democratic Congress). This has been a real cash cow for the various police departments. As I understand, jurisdictional boundaries are being completely ignored -- Ramsey County police have made arrests in Hennepin County.
Latest from Firedoglake (Lindsay Beyerstein): 2 a.m. raid (Update: apparently the house was not entered, but a car was impounded. This is consistent with the harassment and intimidation theory).
Posted by John Emerson at August 31, 2008 1:04 PM
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