Anti-war group calls for Fletcher’s resignation

September 6, 2008

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Organizers of the anti-war march that ended with nearly 400 arrests Thursday called for the resignation of Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher during a press conference outside St. Paul City Hall this afternoon.

The group also demanded an investigation of city officials’ handling of the “raid” on peaceful demonstrators during three and a half hours of marches, sit-ins and, finally, chaotic, tear gas-tainted skirmishes.

“People were arrested and brutalized for standing on bridges and chanting,” said Meredith Aby, an organizer for the anti-war marches on Monday and Thursday.

As in-your-face proof, march participant Mick Kelly lifted his shirt to expose a Frisbee-sized bruise on his left hip. He said he was shot with a rubber bullet as he tried to keep police from taking the group’s banner at Cedar and 12th streets.

Police deny any law enforcement possesses rubber bullets. Pepper balls and some shell casings can look like rubber bullets.

Much of the conflict between march organizers and police came from a misunderstanding about whether or not the group could move from the state Capitol to the Xcel Energy Center.

The group said it might not have had a permit to march after 5 p.m., but it believed that St. Paul police were going to allow them to take to the streets.

As the march began minutes before 5, St. Paul police told the crowd to disperse — it was unlawfully assembled.

Standoffs on the John Ireland and Cedar Street bridges leadinginto downtown ensued.

Anti-War Committee member Jessica Sundin called the move a bait-and-switch.

“It’s a set up,” she said, adding that fall-out from the confrontation should land on St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who allowed his city to be militarized.

“He and the council should take responsibility for the mess they created,” she said.

The group said numerous lawsuits are certain.

“I feel absolutely confident that lawsuits will be filed” at every level of government, said Dianne Mathiowetz with the Troops Out Now coalition.

When asked what police could have done differently Thursday night, Anti-War Committee member Katrina Plotz answered quickly.

“They needed to move out of our way and let us march,” she said. “They blatantly chose to do something else.”

Plotz said the “police repression” of anti-war protesters would backfire.

“The anti-war movement is just going to get bigger exponentially because of what we’ve seen here in the Twin Cities,” she said.

The group also countered claims by St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington that protesters planned to hurl Molotov cocktails once they reached the Xcel.

If there were such items in the march, why haven’t we seen them, the group asked.



“No Peace for the War-Makers” demonstration at the Xcel Center on September 4

September 4, 2008

Anti-War Committee

1313 5th St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 w 612.379.3899 w http://www.antiwarcommittee.org

For Immediate Release: September 3, 2008

Contact: Katrina Plotz 651.769.4474

Misty Rowan 651.494.8240

Anti-War Committee press conference to announce “No Peace for the War-Makers” demonstration at the Xcel Center on September 4

On Wednesday September 3, the Anti-War Committee will hold a press conference at 1:30 at the Merriam Park Library in St. Paul to announce plans for a massive demonstration on Thursday, the final day of the Republican National Convention. Plans for September 4 include a rally at the State Capitol at 4 pm followed by a march to the Xcel Center. Individuals and groups will demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq and the wars at home on immigrants, workers, low income families, people of color, and the queer community. Demonstrators will utilize creative and diverse tactics to resist war and injustice under a banner of “No Peace for the War-Makers.”

The September 4th demonstration has been endorsed locally by the Welfare Rights Committee, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and Students for a Democratic Society, and nationally by the Troops Out Now Coalition, the International Action Center, and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

Anti-War Committee member Misty Rowan explains, “On September 4, the Republicans will nominate John McCain for president, a candidate who supports endless occupation in Iraq and has threatened war against Iran. He has vowed to continue the war at home by extending Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and by expanding free trade agreements that exploit workers and the environment. We must counter this agenda with demands of our own. We want U.S. troops out of Iraq now and an end to injustice and exploitation at home.

Katrina Plotz of the Anti-War Committee continues, “Throughout the RNC, the Xcel Center has been closed to the thousands of people whose lives are most affected by the plans and decisions of the politicians. The police presence in St. Paul this week has been designed to scare and silence those who are speaking and acting against the Republican agenda. We will not be intimidated. It’s up to us to gather in the streets and converge on the Xcel Center to reject 5 years of unjust war in Iraq and demand justice at home and abroad.”

The Anti-War Committee has been organizing rallies, protests, and educational events in the Twin Cities for the last 10 years. We stand in solidarity with communities at home and abroad who are oppressed by U.S. policy and are committed to building a broad movement for social justice and peace.

Press Conference: “No Peace for the War-Makers”

Wednesday, September 3 @ 1:30 pm, at Merriam Park Library (1831 Marshall Ave, St. Paul – corner of Marshall and Fairview.


Report from the streets of St. Paul – Troops Out Now Coalition

September 4, 2008

RNC–Day 2

On Tuesday, Sept. 2, members of the Troops Out Now Coalition and FIST–Fight Imperialism, Stand Together attended the “March for Our Lives” called by Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

The militant march, which drew up to a thousand people demanding economic human rights, marched past a state prison and a homeless shelter before passing the State Capitol on its way to the Xcel Center, where the Republican National Convention is being held.

For the entire route, we were surrounded by hundreds of cops on bikes, horses and “undercover” officers wearing the same khaki shorts.

Meanwhile, as we were marching, a free music festival attended by thousands of people was happening at the State Capitol. Word that Rage Against the Machine would perform had drawn many youth to the concert. According to witnesses, as Rage came to stage to perform, they were told if they played they would be charged with an “incitment to riot” felony. Then the sound, lights and all electricity was shut down.

Onstage with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Rage lead singer Zack de la Rocha grabbed a bullhorn, did a song and announced they were marching over to join Poor Peoples March.

The march swelled to thousands. We left the State Capitol and started on our way to the Xcel Center. About halfway there, the cops started raising tensions–one cop sprayed a whole section of protesters with pepper spray after he said an activist has marched “too close” to him.

We got to the Xcel Center, which was the ending point of the march. As we got ready to leave, we could see that we were being surrounded by cops, and as we made our way out of the area we could see that other intersections were being blocked by the cops as well–effectively penning in protesters.

All of a sudden, loud explosions could be heard–the sound of concussion grenades being fired into the penned-in crowds. Tear gas and pepper spray was used as well on the protesters.

We have heard reports that more arrests were made last night at the protests. As we were driving back to our housing in Minneapolis, we also saw that several cop cars had pulled over a minivan of protesters on the highway; and were searching the van while the activists were forced to sit on the ground on the highway.

TODAY, Sept. 3, we participated in a press conference to announce plans for a Day 4 protest, happening tomorrow when John McCain is expected to speak at the RNC and accept the presidential nomination. As usual, the corporate media tried to bait the leaders of the various anti-war and anti-poverty coalitions into denouncing the “violence” that direct action groups had supposedly committed. Not a single speaker fell for this derisive trick, redirecting the reporters to the massive violence being committed against poor people at home and abroad.

March organizer Jess Sundin explained how the police had given them a permit for the middle of the day tomorrow–when students and workers will be occupied with their jobs and classes, and before McCain is scheduled to speak. Sundin told the press that the group intends to excercise their right to dissent and march at 5 p.m., whether or not the police department corrects the permit.

To find out more about the Troops Out Now Coalition, go to www.TroopsOutNow.org

To donate to help pay for organizing expenses, go to http://troopsoutnow.org/donate.shtml

To sign the petition demanding an end to police brutality and illegal conduct in St. Paul, go to http://www.troopsoutnow.org/rnc08protestrights.shtml


Report from the Streets of St. Paul: “organizers remained determined to move forward”

September 3, 2008

By LeiLani Dowell

St. Paul, Minn.

Despite an onslaught of police terror and repression, protesters from across the country used a variety of tactics to march on the Republican National Convention here on Sept. 1. A mass march organized by the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War was followed by youthful street actions to denounce the Republican policies of endless imperialist war and sweeping attacks on workers.

In an escalation of tactics used at the Democratic National Convention in Denver a week earlier, Minnesota police began the repression against RNC protesters days before the march. The cops raided community kitchens, meeting spaces and protesters’ homes; handcuffed and harassed activists; confiscated political literature; and arrested at least three people on bogus “conspiracy to riot” charges.

Despite this intimidation, organizers remained determined to move forward with what would turn out to be a highly successful, massive march as well as direct actions on Labor Day, Sept. 1.

Some 30,000 attended a rally that included representatives of the American Indian Movement; ANSWER Coalition; Appeal for Redress Campaign; Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War; Code Pink; Colombia Action Network; Green Party; Latinos Against War; Palestine Solidarity Group; Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign; Students for a Democratic Society; Teamsters 743; Troops Out Now Coalition; United for Peace and Justice; Venezuela Solidarity Network; Veterans for Peace; Welfare Rights Committee; and Women Against Military Madness.

The diverse crowd, led by the Iraq Veterans Against the War, then marched to the Xcel Center, site of the Republican convention, and back to the State Capitol for a closing rally. Various contingents included low-income people, youth and students, immigrant rights activists, labor, Palestine and Colombia solidarity activists, an anti-capitalist bloc and an anti-climate-change group.

While Republican Party leaders shied away from the conference so as to not seem insensitive in the face of Hurricane Gustav, activists remembered the neglect of the Bush administration in response to Hurricane Katrina. A Troops Out Now Coalition banner read “Bush–McCain; Katrina–Gustav: Criminal Neglect Continues.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of youth engaged in militant street actions. They were met by brutal attacks at the hands of the police, including being doused with pepper spray and tear gas. Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) activist and eyewitness videographer Elena Everett reported that a disabled man in a wheelchair was sprayed head-to-toe with pepper spray. Others were hit in the back with tear gas canisters.

The Coldsnap Legal Collective (coldsnaplegal.wordpress.com) reports that as of Sept. 1, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office had announced 284 arrests. Some 130 were charged with felony offenses, which most likely will be used to keep them in jail until the end of the convention. The collective says that the majority of those arrested are still being held in jail, and some are being refused proper medical attention. The collective is asking supporters to call the jail at 651-266-9350 to demand that these activists be released and given proper medical attention.

While the corporate media has focused almost exclusively on property damage sustained during the street actions, including windows being broken at a Macy’s department store, several eyewitnesses told this reporter that the person who began breaking the windows was clearly an agent provocateur working with the police. He approached the window in clear view of the cops, broke it and walked away without an arrest. A police car was also damaged.

However, at a press conference the following day, march coordinator Jess Sundin was quick to point out that any rage displayed by activists in the streets is completely justified and pales in comparison to the state violence committed on a daily basis by U.S. forces at home and abroad.

The joint press conference was held by the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, the RNC Welcoming Committee and the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign–all of whom held fast in their solidarity with arrestees, despite attempts by corporate media reporters to bait them into denouncing “violence.” One man, representing the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign, challenged the reporters: “You act like we’re having this press conference in a country that hasn’t practiced oppression for hundreds of years.”

A number of activities are planned to continue the protests through the end of the convention on Sept. 4, including free public music festivals, a “March for Our Lives” and a “solutions driven” peace conference. For updates on activities, visit http://dncrnc.wordpress.com/.

LeiLani Dowell is an activist and leader with the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC).  TONC activists and organizers have been on the streets at both conventions, marching against racism, war, and injustice.

To find out more about the Troops Out Now Coalition, go to www.TroopsOutNow.org

To donate to help pay for organizing expenses, go to http://troopsoutnow.org/donate.shtml

To sign the petition demanding an end to police brutality and illegal conduct in St. Paul, go to http://www.troopsoutnow.org/rnc08protestrights.shtml


September 3, 2008


September 2, 2008
Stop War on Iran banner (www.StopWarOnIran.org) and FIST banner (www.fistyouth.wordpress.com)

Stop War on Iran banner (www.StopWarOnIran.org) and FIST banner (www.fistyouth.wordpress.com)

Police violence and provocation did not stop tens of thousands of people from turning out to march against the RNC.

Police violence and provocation did not stop tens of thousands of people from turning out to march against the RNC.

March on the RNC lead banner

March on the RNC lead banner - TONC activist Leilani Dowell at far left

Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace

  • STOP the Illegal Raids!

  • Release All Arrestees and Drop the Charges!


Troops Out Now Coalition at the RNC protests

September 2, 2008
Bush = McCain, Katrina = Gustav, Criminal Neglect Continues

Troops Out Now Coalition Banner: Bush-McCain, Katrina-Gustav, Criminal Neglect Continues

Foreclose the War - Not people's homes

Foreclose the War - Not people's homes

Troops Out Now Coalition table at RNC protest

Troops Out Now Coalition table at RNC protest


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