I went downtown to St. Paul in order to get some pictures and observe the situation (I already protested on Monday), but John Ireland Bridge was blocked by the police with dump trucks when I got there. The cops said there was a bomb threat to the Minnesota Historical Society, but that was quite clearly a lie since they were standing so close to it and they’d already closed the other bridges as I found out later.
So I went over to the capitol on foot using the Marion Street Bridge instead. I saw more cops than protesters.
The cops had the city in a headlock. All the other bridges were closed by the police; cops, BCA agents and national guardsman were everywhere. St. Paul was on fucking lockdown.
By the time I found out how totally heavy-handed the police presence was I was getting tired and decided to split. I was trying to get back to my car on the other side of the Marion street bridge when I saw a group about 200 protesters approaching the bridge. That’s why I’m walking against the flow at the beginning of the video. Unfortunately I was too busy trying to get good footage and didn’t notice the cops had surrounded us on all sides.
Soon the police started firing flash grenades, smoke bombs and generally scaring the shit out of me and all these peaceful protesters. We were corraled onto the bridge where they told us we were all under arrest, but not before all of us were shellshocked by the overwhelming police response. Watch the video, but beware that it’s intense, chaotic and there’s swearing and explosions.
Notice how none of the protesters resisted or attacked the cops in any way. This is ironic because we were charged with “resisting a lawful order” along with the 1st amendment-killing crime of “presence at an unlawful assembly.” Whatever happened to the right of people to peaceably assemble?
We are not free; The Bill of Rights is no longer operative.
If you aren’t reading this from jail that simply means the cops haven’t bothered to arrest you on trumped up charges yet. They can clearly do exactly that whenever they want, with no repercussions. I wasn’t even part of the protest and I was charged with being part of an “unlawful assembly.”
The whole arrest process took hours. We were told to sit and put our hands on our heads, which many people had to do for several hours (your arms get sore). I was cuffed after an hour or so and stood around for another hour waiting to get my mug shot (on the bridge; this was all very ad hoc). Since we were on the bridge for so long they eventually hauled at least 3 porta-potties onto the bridge itself, for both police and protester usage (under heavy guard, of course).
Eventually I was led onto a city bus with 40 other arrestees and brought to the Ramsey County jail for booking. They searched me about 5 times, confiscated all my stuff, and gave me a paper bag with a peanutbutter and jelly sandwitch and two apples. See, even oppressive police tactics have a Minnesota Nice aspect. Of course we didn’t get knives so we had to spread the jelly and PB with our fingers.
Hours dragged by as we waded our way through the bureaucracy and were eventually cited and loaded onto a paddywagon and driven out of the jail. They let us out just outside the fences and we were free and on our own far from where we were arrested, but at least the incredibly awesome Coldsnap Legal Collective were there to offer us hugs and access to free legal advice.
People without rides or places to go were able to sleep on the grass outside the jailhouse thanks to sleeping bags the Coldsnap folks brought. Somebody sent the angels last night; they’re doing great work and need your support!
The problem with good things is that the police like to infiltrate and ruin them from the inside. That might’ve been the case with the protest last night. I heard several people talking about police plants agent provocateurs pretending to be protesters, inciting violence and keeping their superiors informed about where they are headed.
Unfortunately, this is standard practice for police departments these days, including Denver during the DNC. How many acts of vandalism and violence that you read about in the mainstream media were actually committed by undercover cops in order to incite and defame activists?
Imagine the embarrassment of the police and governments if they held a convention with massive protests and no one was arrested! They’d have spent millions upon millions of dollars for nothing! They’ve got to earn their outrageous security budgets, which is why they were so keen to arrest anybody who happened to be near Marion St. Bridge last night, including media folks and medics (at least 5 were arrested, along with a dozen credentialed photographers).
Of course they also wanted to show who’s boss. Clearly they are, and clearly they are not going to allow us to change the system peacefully or otherwise. We are not free. We are only permitted to do what they let us; truly free expression is verboten. Believe it or not, America used to be a pretty anything-goes society as long as it wasn’t overtly violent (think of the Old West). Nowadays we cling to our police state as if that makes us safer. But what have we lost in the process?