Tuesday, September 2, 2008

St. Paul the Police State

There's lots ands lots of stuff on the police tactics being used to instill fear into the riffraff in St. Paul so the Repugs can have a nice quiet non-convention free of Constitutional Rights. Glenn Greenwald has a good one, video, links, and many comments.

Massive police raids on suspected protesters in Minneapolis

Not 'protesters', but 'suspected' protesters. Preemptive arrests before any overt act has taken place. 'Suspected' of planning to use The First Amendment. Yeesh.

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 I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

Nestor indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is "conspiracy to commit riot." Nestor, who has practiced law in Minnesota for many years, said that he had never before heard of that statute being used for anything, and that its parameters are so self-evidently vague, designed to allow pre-emeptive arrests of those who are peacefully protesting, that it is almost certainly unconstitutional, though because it had never been invoked (until now), its constitutionality had not been tested.

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.

No shit, but whaddya expect from the Repugs?

The gestapo tactics may have prevented public assembly to dissent just like it was meant to, but there are going to be legal repercussions from this police terrorism for a long time to come. Look for a new Ramsey County Sheriff before too long, and for his department to be hiring. The Feds who put them up to it will fade anonymously into the woodwork as usual.

Since our pal Jane was standing right there when one of these criminal home invasions went down, stay in touch with Firedoglake for more. The top post today is 'St. Paul or Beijing?'.


Here's some relevant links at Hullabaloo.

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