Posted: 11/14/08 21:03, Edited: 11/14/08 21:05
by Ross Rowley
There haven’t been many follow-up stories in the local media, print or broadcast, on what happened outside the Xcel Center during the Republican National Convention (RNC) since the show ended September 5. That’s why Tom Lyden’s exclusive story “Audio Tapes Reveal How Police Lost Control During RNC”on FOX 9 News caught my eye.
The story centers on the Labor Day march where, according to Lyden, a group of 500 “anarchists” (read kids in black outfits) broke away from the 10,000 peaceful marchers who were following the pre-determined parade route.
The young people headed off in three different directions and, because the police on the streets couldn’t communicate with their mobile field forces units (those officers equipped in full riot gear and ready to travel), no reinforcements came and the police effectively lost control of the streets of Saint Paul . An unknown law enforcement official’s panic-struck voice yells in an audio tape, “Squads in my group, which is backed off right now, backed off now, they're destroying every squad car that’s parked in this area right now."
Eventually police were ordered to vacate those parts of the city.
Sheriff Fletcher’s evolving explanation is: "We had 15 officers responsible for the conduct of 500 to 600 anarchists, frankly they were outnumbered 40 to one. I think everyone would agree unlawful behavior should have been confronted, but unfortunately there was a two to two and half hour delay before it was."
Now let’s use some garage logic here. We have an angry mob of 500 rioters that Fletcher previously said would have “destroyed” the town by nightfall if not for his police forces. Now we learn that this same presumably destructive force was not confronted by police for over 2 ½ hours. Whoa. What kind of damage could they have done? Should they have been able to do—if Fletcher’s characterizations were accurate and police totally abandoned the city to these destructive rioters? What kind of damage actually occurred?
Not much. A broken Macy’s window; a smashed police car windshield (altho’ the details of who was actually responsible for this damage is still unknown). Less damage than occurs after many sporting events.
Of the 500 people (less than half of their police estimate, by the way), Fletcher estimated 200 were bent on more serious criminal acts. “There were about 300 people arrested on Sept. 1 and roughly 85 percent were from out of state,” Fletcher said. There was $3 million in property damage in Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization riots and "that same scenario could have happened here if it had not been for these officers," Fletcher said.
Note: Fletcher and other law enforcement spent $50 million of taxpayers’ money on the RNC.
Perhaps now with the passage of election politics and the excitement and hype gone, we can look at the cold hard facts and see the skimpy amount of evidence for what it is. The evidence simply does not begin to match Fletcher’s hype.