Jessica Hoffmann

RNC: Policing Dissent

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | September 02, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Coldsnap Legal Collective, police, policing dissent, protestors, Republican National Convention

A big thank you to Anjali for circulating the link:

You watching what's going on outside the RNC? The Coldsnap Legal Collective is on Twitter with frequent updates about policing of protests surrounding the RNC.

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Jessica, I haven't had internet access all weekend, so I was absolutely shocked this morning to read Glenn Greenwalds' coverage at Salon regarding what has been happening in St. Paul. Homes being raided by swat teams armed with automatic weapons, with computers and files being confiscated; Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!" arrested along with two of her reporters, who may still be detained; peaceful witnesses being pepper-sprayed; groups of police marching the streets while shouting military chants.

Read it here:

Truly frightening stuff! We need to get the word out about what is happening.


Thanks for the Salon link -- I hadn't seen that one yet.


We need to be honest with ourselves and admit that raids like this have happened at Democratic conventions too. And the war on protesters is nothing new -- it's been going on since the 90s.

Check out my piece on the danger that American freedom to protest peacefully may be about to go extinct.

Patricia --

No doubt! Certainly did not mean to imply that these tactics are new or Republican-specific...

Patricia --

No doubt! Certainly did not mean to imply that these tactics are new or Republican-specific ...

Also don't mean to suggest that this kind of policing doesn't happen beyond obvious sites of political protest. Kenyon Farrow has a provocative piece on his blog about how these instances are often simply where certain privileged white people encounter repressive policing of a sort that many people in this society encounter daily, ubiquitously:

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 2, 2008 7:39 PM

Certainly did not mean to imply that these tactics are new or Republican-specific...

Wait a second. It is a distortion to say the same thing happened with the Dems' convention. I heard that bloggers and non-mainstream journalists were intimidated by police while trying to interview attendees at a fancy lobbiest party, but the worst that happened was they were forced to move so far away from the event's entrance that they couldn't interview anyone. Serious? Absolutely. But comparable to what's going on right now in St. Paul? No way!!!

Check out Glenn Greenwald's columns.


I don't think anyone is making that distortion (saying "the same thing" happened with the most recent Dems' convention). But I also don't think this is a Republican-specific phenomenon (consider policing at past DNCs in LA, Chicago ... ), and surely there are all kinds of factors at play here, including local police policies and training, in addition to however this is being informed by any actions of the respective parties/conventions.


Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 2, 2008 8:11 PM

We need to be honest with ourselves and admit that raids like this have happened at Democratic conventions too.

I just cut and pasted what Patricia said. And Jess, it IS a distortion to say the same thing happened at the Democratic convention. I know there is a separate issue of how policing of demonstrations and activists has changed post-9/11. I've been at many demonstrations in this country since then, so I think I am personally aware of how dramatically police procedures have changed during Bush's administration. A Republican administration. But what is going on in St Paul IS DIFFERENT. 280 arrests today. Credentialed journalists arrested and bloodied. Watch the video of Amy Goodman's arrest at Greenwald's Salon site.

From Greenwald:
Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Reports of police are marching and chanting military songs in the streets of St Paul. If these things went on in Denver, would you please show me the stories?

Maybe I should rephrase,

*I* am not saying "the same thing" happened in Denver. ;)

*And* I think Patricia's points in another post here about the lack of Democratic attention paid to the arrests that *did* happen last week in Denver (among other things -- see Mamita Mala's great writing at Vivir Latino about Democrats' silence on ICE raids) are worth attending to.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 2, 2008 8:34 PM

Sorry if I'm coming across in any way as unreasonable. Obviously I don't mean to be. I strongly agree that what has happened recently in this country vis-a-vis protests, activism, free speech, media coverage, etc. has not been relegated to this particular GOP convention. I just as strongly believe that something unprecedented is going on in St. Paul right now. It has so far not received adequate media attention, and it behooves every person concerned about political freedom to do everything they can to find out what is happening.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 2, 2008 9:00 PM

If you're interested, you can see detailed coverage of the arrests of the three Democracy Now! journalists here:

It starts at 8 minutes, 30 seconds into the clip.

Hi Jessica, has a form letter that you can send to various public officials in St Paul.

It reads,

Dear [Decision Maker],

I strongly condemn the arrests and harassment of journalists covering the Republican National Convention. We call upon St. Paul officials to free all detained journalists and drop all charges against them. These include arrests made during police raids in the days prior to the convention and, on Sept 1, of Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke, Democracy Now! anchor Amy Goodman and her two colleagues Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar.

Independent journalists have been targeted, pepper-sprayed and held at gunpoint during these raids. We call on the mayor and local authorities to rein in these aggressive and violent tactics.

Arresting and detaining journalists for doing their jobs is a gross violation of free speech and freedom of the press. Journalists must be free to do their jobs without intimidation.

It also includes a section to add your own comments.

Sadly, Patricia is right. While this year's Dem convention wasn't nearly as anti-protestors as previous years - and the 08 Dem and Repub conventions are vastly different - remember the '68 convention in Chicago.

History repeats itself. Hopefully Democrats are learning, but it seems the Republican are doomed to keep continuing their flawed plan.

Does Denver or the Twin Cities generally have more problems with police brutality?

It's hard to forget the history of silencing dissent at DNCC's, but it's even harder to forget past GOP conventions, like NYC a few years back.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 3, 2008 9:38 AM

When you have a former president protected by the secret service in a room with about half the members of congress (for now) the site is hermetically sealed and there were protesters rushing the containment fences.

Others, defining themselves as anarchists, were busily breaking private property owned by others than themselves. Those store and car owners are not an example of free speech. It reminds me of what they did to Seattle.

This is entirely different from Chicago where the police riot was brutal, hospitalized over a hundred, and the event occurred over three miles from the convention site at McCormick Place. (true Hubert Humphrey was in The Congress Hotel across the street from Grant Park.)

Mayor Daley the father was not going to have outsiders disrupt HIS convention. Consider that there were three networks and heavy unportable cameras available at the time and it is easy to assume that no one expected anything would be recorded.

Now everyone can record, but this is nothing like Chicago in 68 when you had a war on that would cost sixty thousand lives with a mandatory draft.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 3, 2008 11:34 AM

I get the feeling that people commenting here
have not watched the video of what's going on in St. Paul. Did you see the 18-20 somethings interviewed after being held at gunpoint in their own homes while their computers, journals, and political pamphlets were confiscated by police carrying automatic weapons? Did you see journalist Amy Goodman, roughly hauled away by police in riot gear after seeking information about her arrested colleagues? Did you see the video footage journalist Nicole Salazar filmed as police shoved her to the ground, giving her a bloody nose, when she was yelling "Press, press!" and trying to get out of their way?

What if this IS no worse than Chicago in '68? At least in '68, the mainstream media covered the police abuses, and the vast majority of Americans were absolutley outraged that their police forces were behaving to badly. Now the story is ignored. Of the few people who do hear about it, many are insisting that the police behaved rightly.

My gay housemate, when I told him of the arrests, said "What were they [the arrested] doing? They MUST have been doing something!" That sort of denial does not bode well in a police state atmosphere.