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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Preemptive Strikes in St. Paul

posted by on August 30 at 11:05 AM

Local police, sheriff’s, and fire departments have been conducting raids and surprise fire inspections on protest gathering places throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis today, including at least three private homes and this old theater at 627 Smith Avenue:


The busted buildings were to serve as meeting points, food distribution centers, internet sites, and bunkhouses for visiting protestors.

Branch, a visiting protestor from Portland, was at the building above when it was raided last night. “It was like a SWAT raid,” he said, “between 30 and 50 cops with guns drawn and pointed at people’s heads.”

The police, from the sheriff’s department, made everybody lie on the floor and read a broad search warrant. “They said they were looking for X-boxes, computers, paper materials, paint, banners, strips of fabric, I guess for molotov cocktails,” Branch said. “They took all our computers—maybe ten desktops and five or six laptops—for evidence.”

Everybody present—50 or 60 people, Branch estimates—was detained, photographed, and questioned before being released. The officers also “sealed” the old theater with eight screws:


An older woman, walking her dog, walked by while Branch was telling his story. “I’m so sorry my city is treating visitors this way,” she said. “The mayor lives in my neighborhood and I’m going to call him about this!

The raids are, among other things, stranding visiting protestors without lodgings. (If anybody in the Twin Cities areas wants to host a visitor or two, many of whom have brought tents and sleeping bags, call the “housing hotline”: 612-419-7809.)

At a food distribution center five blocks away from the theater, a few folks—an older Native American man, a young white guy with a handsome beard and pointy moustache, a nice older lady in a pink shirt with white hair, all of whom declined to be photographed—said they expected to be raided sometime today. The nice older lady shrugged: “Seems possible.”

While we were standing there, Noah Kunin—a local video blogger from The Uptake—got a call from his editor: The local IndyMedia offices had just been popped with a surprise fire inspection.

RSS icon Comments


There is a reason the word - pig - still works ...

Of course the cop shop has been bought off by the neocons ...

Some of you people here who are so blase about demonstrators have missed the value of free speech - wait 'till the pigs show up at your house to take your computer - a tool of damage to society - and files...

America the so changed in 8 years. In the past they would have kicked you at the demo, now they chase you away before you exercise free political speech.

Need strong Federal judges to intervene - to stop the pigs

Posted by Adam | August 30, 2008 11:25 AM

I'm glad these domestic terrorists are being identified and routed!

Obama "plumbers" must not be allowed to perform illegal dirty tricks!

Posted by John Bailo | August 30, 2008 11:29 AM

Hey! The toolbar on the pictures doesn't work for me.

Posted by elenchos | August 30, 2008 11:34 AM

Fuckin' pig lightaz ass up.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 30, 2008 11:43 AM

I wipe my ass with your Bill of Rights!

Posted by John Bailo Über Alles | August 30, 2008 11:43 AM

GP Responds with Top Ten:

1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process."
Posted by Cynthia McKinney | August 30, 2008 11:53 AM

Wow... the Fascist Party really is living up to its name.

On the other hand, shots of crazy protesters are going to do wonders to further the Republican cause with Middle America. Seems like a remarkable case of shooting oneself in the political foot.

Posted by demo kid | August 30, 2008 12:06 PM

You have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 30, 2008 12:07 PM

#5 - no you don't wipe any ass with the Bill of Rights - except you own - and thus seal YOUR very own fate.

You think the Fascist state cares about your tiny life - get a clue.

Posted by John | August 30, 2008 12:44 PM
Posted by jezbian | August 30, 2008 12:59 PM

So how did the Denver police handle the right wing protesters at the DNC?

Posted by RainMan | August 30, 2008 1:15 PM

Thanks for posting this Brendan. One question:
were the people in the theater squatting there? It is so unbelievable that they bolted the door up if they had permission to be there. If they weren't even squatting there this is really scary news. (shaking head sadly at state of the country)

You can send the mayors of st. paul and minneapolis a note of concern at:

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 1:33 PM

arts reader: They weren't squatting, in fact. They'd rented it.

And, as of a couple of hours ago, the city turned the building back to its owners who, I believe, have turned it back over to the protestors. This is all, obviously, strong-arming and intimidation. Just a calling card from the police, who feel (if my police source has it right) understaffed and a little nervous themselves.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | August 30, 2008 1:57 PM

Did the St. Paul police dept. out source their work to the Bejing Police?

Posted by Heather | August 30, 2008 2:08 PM

Thanks for posting this. For once, even CNN had the balls to run a story about it on their website.

Weren't we just watching stories about Chinese officials squelching protests at the Olympics?


Posted by MichaelPgh | August 30, 2008 3:09 PM

This is so horrible.

Posted by chicago | August 30, 2008 3:42 PM

Wow. I grew up five blocks from that building. It used to be a Masonic hall. Let the conspiracies begin.

Posted by Jason Josephes | August 30, 2008 4:46 PM

I know The Stranger likes to take a snarky attitude toward demonstrations and that is of course your right. Since you also seem to take positions against the war and against Bush it might be a good idea to try to find some common ground with progressives in a effort to protect all of our civil liberities.
The raids in St. Paul take repression to a new dangerous level. It is not a big leap from raiding indymedia to raiding media outlets like The Stranger.
Those of us who hold dissident views from the government need to start to stick together.

Posted by Heather | August 30, 2008 5:39 PM

Great. Now my toolbar is totally gone. How am I supposed to Select or Zoom?

Posted by elenchos | August 30, 2008 9:13 PM

Gawd, I was just thinking about how brave and prescient Dan was when he wrote this:

I get all tingly around the prostate just from re-reading it.

Posted by Josh | August 30, 2008 10:02 PM

This is why Obama must be elected so he can prevent the Supreme Court entirely handing over all powers th the presidency.

Posted by elswinger | August 31, 2008 12:17 AM

Sue! SUE!!!

Posted by Greg | September 4, 2008 5:44 PM

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