from the Minnesota Indepedent:
By Molly Priesmeyer 8/30/08 9:33 PM
A look over the inventory receipt for the raid at 3240 17th Avenue (hat tip TC Indy Media) reveals that most of the items the police seized out of the the home this morning as “evidence to riot” are things that could be found in nearly any home: They confiscated a pack of staples, laptop computers, bike locks, cell phones, a storage device, a computer hard drive, curtain rods, a checkbook. The police also took what they call “propaganda literature,” such as leaflets and other information material tenants and guests planned on distributing at the RNC. The only questionable items found at the home was a rifle barrel, throwing knives, and caltrops. Yet Alex, who lives at the home and does not want to give out his last name, says police claims that these items were evidence of conspiracy to riot is ridiculous.
“It was a rifle barrel that was in a hutch on the stairwell landing,” he says. “It was really old and rusty, and it was here since we moved in. If you shot anything out of it, you would probably kill yourself. Plus, the rest of the gun is missing! What could anyone do with that thing?”
Alex says the raid and gathering of gear like computers and digital cameras was part of a larger mission by Ramsey County and the Minneapolis Police Department to sqaush protests at the RNC. “These are all amazingly kind people who are just trying to fight something unjust,” he says. “What of these things is evidence to incite a riot? It’s absurd.”
As for the throwing knives, homeowner Monica Bicking’s attorney says they are legal, and that no one had any intention of using them against anyone. “I can guarantee you no one was planning on using throwing knives at the demonstration. No one thinks that is a way to create attention for the issues. This is a political protest, and the issues at hand are most important. I challenge [Ramsey County Sheriff] Bob Fletcher to show me one instance in the last 20 years where anyone has used throwing knives at a demonstration. It’s ridiculous.”
The 37 caltrops found in the garage of the home, nail-like devices used to stop traffic or puncture wheels, are also not evidence or conspiracy to commit a riot, Nestor says. For one thing, there were only 37 of them, hardly enough to stop much. “Did they have some devices to try to block traffic? Maybe so,” Nestor asserts. “But does that mean they should be arrested on conspiracy charges? Not at all. This was intended to halt the protests.”
Twenty-three-year-old homeowner Bicking remains in Ramsey County jail on charges of conspiracy to riot. No formal charges have been made, and Nestor says the police are holding her and others as a means to impede the RNC peaceful protests scheduled for Monday, and they’re using intimidation tactics to incite fear in others by calling those arrested “criminal anarchists.”
“The timing of this is another example of motivation behind the raid,” Nestor says. “This has been an ongoing investigation. If they have evidence of a criminal act then they should charge them, not hold them for 36 hours, which for in this case is four and half days.” The MPD can hold suspects for up to 36 hours before charging them with a crime, but the 36-hour hold does not include weekends and holidays. That means Bicking could remain in jail without any formal charges filed until Wednesday afternoon.
At least one person, the neighbor of Bicking who is a longtime Powderhorn resident and says the tenants are good kids who care about issues, isn’t intimidated by the sweeps. She created a homemade sign this evening for any officers driving by. Using a marker and paper, she placed it over her Barack Obama yard sign: “We are NOT intimidated,” it reads.
More on 17th Avenue raid here.