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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Protests in St. Paul

posted by on September 16 at 17:13 PM


The wicked, liberal media sure has been quiet about all that pepper-sprayin’, journalist-arrestin’, teenage-whuppin’ action at the Republican National Convention a couple of weeks ago.

But the New York Times finally picked up the story today:

“It was an unprecedented show of police presence and display of force,” said Bruce Nestor, the president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is defending many of those arrested. “Minnesota has never seen this level of militarization of local police.”

Whew. That’s a relief. I was staring to worry I’d imagined the whole thing.

And please enjoy this price quote from a St. Paul police flack:

At some point even a journalist has to recognize that they are in violation of the law,” Tom Walsh, a St. Paul Police spokesman, said as the arrests were taking place. “Are they going to get arrested or are they going to cover it from a distance?”

He thinks he’s dismissing Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, the folks from I-Witness video, and the other members of the non-mainstream media who were roughed up by police.

But would you say the same to the writers and photographers from the AP, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Fox freaking News who were rounded up and arrested, Mr. Walsh?

Because they happened to be doing their jobs, covering a protest when the police decided to conduct a mass arrest that—the courts may very well show—was unjustified? Because how dare a journalist, whether from Fox or Democracy Now!, get close enough to see what’s actually happening?

That’s a violation of the law?

That’s bullshit.


RSS icon Comments


Jesus. That second picture is nuts.

Posted by Nick | September 16, 2008 5:17 PM

The cultivation of the dependent/independent journalist divide.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | September 16, 2008 5:23 PM

Amy Goodman is not an "activist-journalist," she's a journalist.

Posted by DOUG. | September 16, 2008 5:29 PM

This is what a police state looks like.

Posted by Mr. X | September 16, 2008 5:35 PM

Once again the children known as "American Citizens" think the country known as "America" is pure and can do no evil to its citizens or others. When oh when Mommy with they grow up and understand that a government, any government, even GASP the American government, DOES NOT have the interests of its citizens first and foremost in it's mind? When you take on the government kids, be prepared to get slammed, HARD. It's totally wrong I know, but it's the ugly truth, deal with it.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | September 16, 2008 5:42 PM

I'm sure the only reason the Fox people got mixed up in this is they were trying to get a close-up of the craziest-looking "anarchist" they could point a camera at, as per company policy. In the future they should look into embedding their photographers with the occupying force, er I mean with the peace officers.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 16, 2008 5:44 PM

This makes me so angry. I don't even know what to do, I'm so angry.

Posted by Greg | September 16, 2008 6:12 PM

Police crushing dissent, banks collapsing, corporations looting public coffers. Is America keeling over or is it just the S.O.S.?

Posted by FRUITCAKEpuppet | September 16, 2008 6:29 PM

Good points. And they deserve to be made again. But after the WTO, there's no reason to act surprised that this happens. The following illegal activities have been taking place ever since the IMF-World Bank meeting in DC in 2000:

-preemptive arrests to keep protest group leaders off the streets (remember the bail set for david solnit for $1 million to keep him away from both the RNC and DNC conventions?)

-no protest zones

-mass arrests for exercising one's freedom to assemble when instructed not to.

-unnecessary and excessive use of force by police

-violent enforcement of traffic laws, and sometimes even arrests, to harass marches without permits

-violent intimidation of anyone with video cameras or regular cameras, including assault and destruction or seizing of recording equipment of all types

-government surveillance of non-violent protesters, most of whom have no plans to break the law

These are common tactics, used to protect Democratic and Republican events, for the last 8 years. There is almost no public debate over them. And when there is, it is often local, and officials take the side of police unions, who for some reason don't have a beef with being given orders to violate the Constitution.

Posted by Trevor | September 16, 2008 7:49 PM


What would Paul Revere and friends do?

Posted by VivaLaRevolution! | September 16, 2008 8:43 PM


What would Paul Revere and friends do?

Posted by VivaLaRevolution! | September 16, 2008 8:45 PM

When they open fire with gatling guns, will anybody say that the didn't see it coming?

There is an item of urban legend that keeps surfacing on hate radio, about how the protesters were armed with poop-and-pee-bombs. This has to be confronted like the lies about protesters spitting on war heros, or burning the flag.

Posted by Michael J Swassing | September 16, 2008 9:04 PM

NOT TRUE: “Minnesota has never seen this level of militarization of local police.”

Actually: In December 1999, 600 police officers descended upon a non-violent protest to save some oak trees in a Minneapolis city park. That was far more militaristic than this event.

Posted by coldwater | September 16, 2008 9:28 PM

I guess the only defense we have left against this outrage is the freedom of information allowed by the internet. Maybe it won't be the Letter from Birmingham Jail, but nonviolent protest and careful documentation of brutality may have the power to slowly pull us back from this abyss. I hope very much that I am right.

Posted by Greg | September 16, 2008 9:38 PM

The chemistry of the new crowd control tools fascinates me. Read in Brendan Kiley's RNC article tonight that pepper spray is no longer water-soluble (good luck getting that off), and has been banned from use in war by international agreement.

Remember the Pentagon's experiments in crowd control stink bombs and protester dyes? Not to mention the microwave gun that supposedly does no lasting damage.

Posted by Amelia | September 16, 2008 10:01 PM

Right on, B. I hope you ride this story hard all the way to a Pulitzer, because I, for one, think it's that important.

Posted by Wendy R. | September 17, 2008 8:57 AM

@6 -- so dead on.

Posted by nicole | September 17, 2008 10:38 AM

With any luck, this local yocal police department will end up paying out millions due to lawsuits.

Have any been filed yet?

Posted by Free Lunch | September 17, 2008 2:58 PM

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