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UPDATE 2: The Uptake. Independent video journalism from the 2008 Republican National Convention. Includes dozens of videos, including many referenced in the posts below.
UPDATE: From the photographs that are appearing on the web, St. Paul looks to be heavily militarized. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is reporting the arrests have started at the RNC, including that of well known journalist Amy Goodman. Tom Walsh, St. Paul Police spokesperson, can be seen responding to a question from Greenwald about the arrest of Goodman here. Walsh states “we don’t believe that this person was simply a nonparticipant or a reporter of incident.”
The mainstream media do not appear to be asking questions about police behavior. You have to assume that the guy who followed up with the question about dollar value on any damage has never heard of Goodman. (The city spokesperson says a few “picture windows” have been broken.)
CNN conflates police teargassing with Walsh’s observations on “splinter groups”, glass breaking, and an attempt to block a street. They do not mention Goodman.
AP mentions Goodman’s arrest, but still leads with “some turn violent”
At the end of the end of the press conference clip, linked above Walsh says that fear is not part of the police strategy. He starts to respond, “Simply the presence of a police officer…” then just walks off.
I think it will be shown later that the massive police presence was intended to intimidate the public, to drive away people who would otherwise participate, and to limit the visibility of the general march and rally, and to keep the group of people that did show out small and manageable.
Twin Cities Indy Media:
Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald has the story on the big raids on anti-war activists now occurring in Minneapolis and the coincidental lack of major media coverage. This despite the fact that the demonization of legitimate protest is a virtual repeat of what happened at the 2004 RNC. The template of fabricated law enforcement justifications and illegal police actions is readily available in the stream of news reports on the 2004 arrests that are still forthcoming in in the NY media and in the reports of the NYCLU released in 2005.
The police arrests seem to be directed not only at groups that came to participate in the anti-war, anti-RNC rally, but in the groups that document police arrests themselves.
Thanks to the efforts of groups like I-Witness and the National Lawyer’s Guild Legal Observers at the 2004 RNC “of the approximately 1,500 arrests for which criminal proceedings had been completed as of July 2005, over 90% of the cases had been dismissed, conditionally dismissed, or had ended in acquittals.” [ "Rights and Wrongs at the RNC: A Special Report about Police and Protest at the Republican National Convention". NYCLU Report. August 2005. PDF. Page 7]. In many cases, referenced in the NYCLU report and in subsequent articles in the NY media (a few here) the police were shown in documentary videos to be arresting without cause and to have subsequently lied about their arrests in their reports.
As Greenwald reports, several raids were conducted on August 30, including this raid on an I-Witness video meeting:
The Uptake has this amazing video interview with the Democracy Now producer who was detained today. As the DN producer explains, she was present at a meeting of a group called “I-Witness” — which videotaped police behavior at the 2004 GOP Convention in New York and helped get charges dismissed against hundreds of protesters who were arrested. The police surrounded the St. Paul house where they were meeting even though they had no warrant, told them that anyone who exited the house would be arrested, and then — even though they finally, after several hours, obtained a warrant only for the house next door — basically broke into the house, pointed weapons at everyone inside, handcuffed them, searched the house, and then left. Here is a blog post from one of the members of I-Witness asking for help during the time when they were forced to stay inside the house (see the second post — it reads like a note from a hostage crying out for help). This is truly repugnant, extreme police behavior designed to intimidate protesters, police critics and others, and it ought to infuriate anyone and everyone who cares about basic liberties.
Video of the August 30 raid, including an argument with the cops over the address on belated warrant here:
Greenwald’s subsequent entry shows that the raids not only continued on Sunday, August 31, but that federal involvement is apparent;
Today’s Star Tribune added that the raids were specifically “aided by informants planted in protest groups.” Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force — an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI — was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate “vegan groups” and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.
The index of groups named in 2004 RNC documents runs over 225 names, including everyone from the 1199 Bread and Roses Cultural Project and Alicia Keyes and to Youth Channel (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) and “Zombie Flash Mob”. It seems that the police and federal agencies are continuing to cast a wide net, while now specifically targeting independent journalists.
The role of videographers is well known in New York, where this footage was recently taken at a Critical Mass bike rally:
Youtube: NYPD Assault Cyclist In Times Square – 29 July 2008
Without such coverage, the wrongful arrest of the cyclist would almost certainly have succeeded. That is exactly what local police and federal agencies are hoping to accomplish by targeting the Minneapolis videographers: make bad arrests stick.
Wikipedia: Joint Terrorism Task Force
Three articles on spying by NYPD before and during the 2004 RNC:
- “NY Law Enforcement Caught Doctoring Video of RNC Arrests“. Democracy Now. April 14, 2005.
- “NYPD Spy Tactics Exposed: Democracy Now! Airs Exclusive Police surveillance Footage Recorded From Blimps, Helicopters and “Lipstick Cams” During Republican National Convention“ February 19, 2007.
- “City Police Spied Broadly Before G.O.P. Convention” By JIM DWYER, New York Times. March 25, 2007
- PDF: “Rights and Wrongs at the RNC: A Special Report about Police and Protest at the Republican National Convention“. Christopher Dunn, Donna Lieberman, Palyn Hung, Alex Vitale, Zac Zimmer, Irum Taqi, Steve Theberge and Udi Ofer. New York Civil Liberties Union. August 30, 2005.
- The New York Civil Liberties Union index of police documents relating to the 2004 RNC is here:
. Documents were obtained via the courts February – May 2007.
I-Witness Video’s list of news articles is here:
2008 RNC protester’s site:
. Hosted by Indymedia.
Google News on search string: ‘”Ramsey County Sheriff” convention’. Note that one columnist quotes the sheriff as saying the raids netted “”edged weapons,” Molotov cocktails, buckets of urine and tools for disabling buses”. Similar reports were released during previous conventions and have proved to be disinformation.
Timothy Carr on Huffington Post. St. Paul Mayor and Media Mum on Journalism Crackdown. September 3, 2008.
Tags: 2008 Democratic National Convention, 2008 Republican National Convention, Amy Goodman, Amy Goodman arrested, Critical Mass, Democracy Now, Denver Convention, DNC, domestic spying, Glenn Greenwald, I-Witness, Jim Dwyer, Joint Terrorism Task Force, legal observers, Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Convention, New York Civil Liberties Union, NYCLU, political repression, Ramsey County sheriff's department, RNC, Sheriff Bob Fletcher, spying, St. Paul Police Department, surveillance, Timothy Karr, Tom Walsh, Tom Walsh public information