Clearly a few rogue demonstrators threw bricks at business windows. There weren’t many who did that, and it is highly probable that most of those who did were police Provocateurs. That’s why the police were arresting journalists and confiscating cameras, because with film the demonstrators could show who were actually starting violence. Without the film the media are going to take the word of the cops.
The provocateurs were hired by the joint task force made up of federal, state and local police as emptywheel reports below. Even with the police provocateurs at work, the demonstrations were generally peaceful.
Below are links to a series of reports from Minneapolis – St. Paul over the weekend through today.
By Emptywheel - Wednesday May 21, 2008 4:51 pm
Minneapolis' Joint Terrorist Task Force is recruiting people to infiltrate vegan potlucks to look for potential--what?--tahini enthusiasts?--in advance of the RNC convention this fall.
Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.
When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.
Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.
“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”
Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered. [my emphasis]
Now, maybe the vegans we've got here in Michigan are dramatically different from those infesting Minnesota. But where I'm from, vegans tend to be fairly peaceful people. If they're unwilling to steal a bee's honey, I figure, they're going to be unwilling to use force to make their point. So I'm really curious how this operation got beyond the "mere speculation that force or violence might occur" that the US Attorney's own guidelines demands.
by Glenn Greenwald - Sunday Aug. 31, 2008 11:46 EDT
A summary description of the police raids conducted Sunday with links.
By: Siun Monday September 1, 2008 10:17 am
Update at 11:46 pacific - Latest reports from the streets - live video at The Uptake:
RUBBER BULLETS FIRED AT 10TH/ST PETER BLACK BLOC. 1 PROTESTER DOWN. national guard also coming to scene reportedly with concussion grenades and smoke.
Legal observers from the Cold Spring Legal collective have been arrested – these are the folks trained to watch for police problems.
Tear gas and water cannons is use as well.
Update at 11:04 pacific -Reports coming in via indymedia twitter:
COPS ARE INDISCRIMINATELY USING TEAR GAS AND PEPPER SPRAY AT 7TH AND MINNESOTA STREETS. HELP NEEDED ASAP: WATER, MEDICS. JOURNALISTS GASSED
Also reports of police horses being used against marchers.
Update at 10:41 (pacific) Lindsay just saw 12 bicycle cops ride past in gas masks - and there are reports that "Justice Department officers directing riot police on 6th St to "get ready" are popping up on the Indy tweets.
Lindsay, Glenn and Jane are out in St. Paul getting the story from the ground as the RNC starts up – and we’ll be bringing you continuing news throughout the day.
A large march to the Excel Center is beginning in about an hour and folks are rallying now – undeterred by the police raids you’ve already seen reported here. As Matt Stoller notes, the RNC is meeting in their very own Green Zone while the pepper spray and arrests have already started in the streets of St. Paul today.
So just who are these people and why are they gathering in the streets to march on the RNC?
Meredith Aby, a member of the (Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War) coalition said:
The anti-war movement has ALWAYS had a demand of money for human needs not for war, and Hurricane Katrina was one of the reasons for that demand. Hurricane Gustav affects the Republican Party because they don't want to be seen as ignoring another crisis as they did when they left people to die on freeway overpasses. The demonstration will be voicing opposition to the war's prioritization above human needs such as building levees, the economy, healthcare, etc.
Listen also to Starhawk who explains her reasons for being in St Paul:
I’m here really just to bring home to the Republicans the truth that wrecking the country might have some negative consequences. The Democrats have failed to hold them accountable. Most of the country is wrapped in a sullen, smoldering anger that does not yet lead to action. But some of us are here, plotting and planning our marches and counter conventions and direct actions. And while it may prove to be a major slip in my ongoing struggle with Frustration Addiction, I’m glad to be here with a crew of old and new friends, those buddies I’m bonded with in the way you only get to be when you’ve stood shoulder to shoulder as some cop shoots you in the face with pepper spray.
At a ritual last night, Starhawk spoke of the core belief that leads her and so many others to gather:
Each of us is part of the web of life, and precious, bringing our own unique gifts to the world. We don’t ask people to believe in things, not even the Goddess who is simply our term for the great creative mystery that weaves the world. But we do ask people to believe in yourself, in your own deep work, in your sacred purpose. You are here for a reason.
Pretty scary folks, eh? They certainly frighten the RNC!
by Glenn Greenwald - Monday Sept. 1, 2008 19:28 EDT
Following up on this weekend's extreme raids on various homes, at least 250 people were arrested here today in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 -- with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured.
By Mike Burke of Democracy Now - September 1, 2008
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC
Goodman Charged with Obstruction; Felony Riot Charges Pending Against Kouddous and Salazar
ST. PAUL--Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.
All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar’s violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, “I’m Press! Press!,” resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman’s arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.
On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on: www.democracynow.org
Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman’s crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a “peace officer.”
Mass show of peaceful dissent soon makes a violent descent
Bolstered by emergency help from the Minnesota National Guard, police in St. Paul arrested 284 people Monday after outbreaks of violence and road obstructions linked to rogue bands of demonstrators among an otherwise peaceful throng estimated at 10,000 people.
The demonstrations, on a steamy first day of the Republican National Convention, began with block after block of marchers -- far fewer than the 50,000 some had predicted -- chanting and peacefully waving signs on downtown St. Paul's narrow streets. As the day wore on, the carnival atmosphere turned ugly.
Before most of the demonstrators had finished their march, a few hundred protesters splintered off and became confrontational and sometimes violent. Some smashed windows at Macy's and a downtown bank building. Others challenged police by blocking roads.
Late Monday, authorities said 130 of the 284 people arrested may face felony charges. Dozens were pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed. One police officer was punched in the back, and another suffered from heat exhaustion. St. Paul emergency rooms reported nine minor injuries and several heat-related cases.
Sara summarizes what has been happening.
By Sara Robinson - September 2nd, 2008 - 2:04pm ET
It almost seems like the Twin Cities cops are going way out of their way to create trouble, doesn't it?
We had our share of ugly police events in Denver—almost all of them resulting when party leaders ordered police to harass journalists trying to document swanky confabs between fat cats and industry lobbyists. But, even so, one did not get the impression that the legions in black Gore-Tex were going out of their way to create trouble, let alone incite public riots. Mostly, they were remarkably live-and-let-live.
On the other hand, law enforcement in the Twin Cities tipped their hand Friday night that they're so ready to rumble that they're perfectly willing to throw the first punch, if that's what it takes to get the riot started. Glenn Greenwald and FDL's Lindsay Beyerstein have been providing summary coverage of events as they unfolded; in their reporting, it's all too clear that there are lot of powerful people involved who are spoiling for a street fight with progressives.
At the local level, according to a National Lawyers Guild attorney interviewed by Greenwald, there's Ramsay County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, a "right-wing authoritarian" who is apparently gunning for a bigger share of the Homeland Security pie—and thinks that invading "hippie houses" is the key to that.
At the district level, we have warrants being signed by federal district court judges, and guys wearing FBI jackets milling around on the various bust scenes. That tells you that whatever is going on here, it's not just a matter of local cops getting too big for their britches.
And at the level of the national campaign, we have plenty of motivation to turn RNC '08 into a replay of DNC '68.
Faithful readers of Nixonland know that Nixon loved these kinds of street scenes so much he'd routinely have his ratfuckers go out and deliberately stoke peaceful protests into full-fledged riots so he could get it all on film. Those images of the forces of Law And Order taking it to the Dirty Fucking Hippies played right into his favorite political narratives. He sold himself as the candidate who would protect the Silent Americans from those noisy, dirty bums whose public tantrum-throwing threatened the good order of the nation.
Conservatives have been relying on that narrative to stir voters—and discredit the left —ever since. The prize they're really looking for here is fresh film of Dirty Fucking Hippies Getting Theirs. Once you understand that, it's not hard to believe that the Twin Cities police forces may have been gunning from the get-go to purposefully ignite as much confrontation as possible.
What we're seeing in Minneapolis (and did not see in Denver) is incitement to riot on a grand scale—planned and executed by law enforcement agencies themselves. There's plenty of evidence that the orders are coming from the federal level—and a credible suggestion that local law enforcement has been promised some sweet favors if they deliver.