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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Police Have Tough Job -- But It Needs to be Done Right

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 09/02/08 11:43

by Dave Mindeman

There really is no excuse for this.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and 2 of her colleagues were arrested by the police. Their crime? They were near the anarchists involved in a real crime.

Despite showing press credentials, Goodman's colleagues were arrested and held and charged. Goodman was arrested when she challenged the arrests, trying to explain that they were journalists.

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 onMonday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. AbdelKouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his armsscraped 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.


VIDEO HERE

I would be curious to know if it really was Minneapolis police and not those from St. Paul.

Frustrated policeman need to discern the difference between people involved in illegal activity and the reporters who will most certainly will be involved in covering an ongoing story.

I can understand the frustration of trying to figure out who is involved and who is not, but valid credentials should be easy to check out and that type of situation should be quickly resolved.

It's only the first day -- is this going to get worse?
comments (2) permalink

RNC Day One -- Hot Day and Heated Exchanges

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 09/02/08 05:46

by Dave Mindeman

Yesterday's protest march was peaceful and a solid statement of opposition, but a lot of smaller groups stole all the headlines because they opted for more violent actions.

Here are some quick observations:

First of all, I don't think St. Paul is doing themselves any favors with all the street closings. I imagine some of them are for security reasons but traffic routes were confusing and trust me, St. Paul is confusing enough without any additional help. This was Labor Day -- no usual downtown business, and a scaled back convention agenda. Tuesday will be a bigger mess, especially if police move traffic at random to remove cars from confrontational protesters.

Second, the Joe Repya counter protest was a bust. I have seen pictures of the "Let our Soldiers Win" signs stacked several feet high. They went unused and I saw very few people around the area who were holding them up. I am sure the spin will be different from the conservative blogs, but it is hard to deny the lack of visible presence.

Third, it is frustrating to watch small groups bent on violence get all the attention. I also think the St. Paul police force is a little frustrated. As I noted in the previous post describing a small group on Jackson St., there were some confrontations handled well, but it looks like the police got wore down in the heat and the frustration -- and in the end probably began to overreact. The Uptake videos are a little disturbing. Police are arresting people simply because they are in the same area. That won't work and I hope it is not going to continue. They all need to take a step back and reassess. I can't help but correlate the "pre-emptive" raids that the St. Paul police did over the weekend with the actions of an angry splinter group of "anarchists". I doubt there is anything much more provoking than house raiding prior to the fact.

Fourth, the actual scaled back convention news was focused on the "Palin revelations". That all seems to be pointing to a very poor "vetting" process from the McCain campaign. I think that says more about McCain, himself, than the number of unusual stories coming out about Gov. Palin. When you make a "bold" pick, you shouldn't spend your first days explaining and defending it.

So, there you have Day One. The rally and protest at the Capitol was well organized and an effective statement. What happened outside of that event was troubling and a rocky start. Where this all goes form here is anybody's guess. I am sure there will be more attempts at confrontation from a determined anarchist minority. The police will be challenged to keep things orderly.

We will have some "hot", end of summer, days in St. Paul. Let's hope that cooler heads prevail.
comments (0) permalink

Protest -- Not Always Violent, But Not Newsworthy Either

Category: Iraq War
Posted: 09/01/08 21:06, Edited: 09/01/08 23:15

by Dave Mindeman

There was a very long and peaceful processional from the Capitol to the Xcel Center. A long line of people displaying their displeasure with a corrupt administration.

However, if you watched the news, you would think that the majority of protests were violent, disruptive, and lawbreaking. Pictures of broken windows and overturned newspaper stands seem to be much more interesting than marchers with banners or signs.

I don't know how many people were in the march... I heard too many different estimates to really be certain, but I would guess over 5,000 would be ballpark. Splinter groups of a few dozen each went out of their way to make trouble. Who got the coverage? I think you know.

Not all of the side protest groups were intent on violent behavior.

I saw one of the splinter groups at the corner of Jackson St. and 10th, just before the march began. This group roped off that intersection blocking traffic in all directions. They clearly wanted a confrontation with the police and they did get it....sort of.

They chanted their slogans and I watched a couple of police officers radio in. I assumed they were calling for more help, but they did something else first.

The first officer on the scene tried to get them to disperse. Of course, they refused. She (the officer) then broke some of the tape and got a few cars to move through. The anarchists (I guess I'll call them that for lack of a more definitive term) quickly closed the opening by standing in front of traffic.

The cars started to back up. More police cars made an appearance but most of the officers remained with their cars. The officer tried to work around the protesters without confronting them. They, in turn, didn't push the issue and eventually started to move down the street. However, it was only to set up another blockade one block furthur up the street.

A few more police officers moved into that block. Meanwhile, the first officer started to move traffic away from that particular street. Eventually, they cordoned off one direction.

One block furthur down, the protesters, again, chanted slogans and blocked the traffic. The police officers talked to them and moved the traffic around them when they could. A couple of other police officers then started moving traffic out of the intersection. It was strange but they forced the cars to move onto an interstate ramp -- even if they wanted to move forward. They just decided to move vehicles out of there.

One pickup truck driver started to get out of his vehicle and was about to head toward the protesters but one of the officers pointed directly at him and order him back into his vehicle. He meant business and the driver obliged. He, too, was directed to the ramp.

The protesters continued to do their "civil disobedience" and the police officers continued to work around them -- neither side seemed to be communicating or were confrontational. They just seemed to be occupying the same space.

Eventually, the protesters moved out of the area. The police directed traffic back to a normal pattern. Back-up teams of police were in the area but never got involved. Frankly, it was all quite peaceful, even though the entire incident went on for about 35 minutes.

To be honest, I thought the police handled the situation quite well. I guess the protesters made their point but if they were trying to get arrested, that didn't happen.

So, at least for this little corner of St. Paul, the drama played itself out -- nobody got hurt and everybody seemed to have their say.

UPDATE: Looks like later in the day the police got a little more frustrated and started mass arrests in questionable circumstances. Go to the UPTAKE and check out their videos.
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