from Politics in Minnesota:
A national anti-war activist group, the Troops Out Now Coalition, has set up an online petition drive in the wake of this weekend’s police raids and arrests of Republican National Convention protesters.
The petition accuses authorities of using “fear and intimidation” tactics and acting under orders from the RNC to raid three Minneapolis homes and the RNC Welcoming Committee’s “Convergence Center” in downtown St. Paul.
“Release the arrestees and drop the phony charges,” the petition, on the coalition’s website, reads. “I condemn the violent and illegal raids being carried out against activists assembling to protest at the Republican National Convention. I am opposed to any attempts to suppress dissent at the RNC, and I demand that anyone being held be released immediately, all phony charges dropped, and all property seized to be returned.
“Friday and Saturday’s raids on the Convergence Center and other locations were outrageous attacks on the rights of people to protest at the RNC. Dissent is not a crime.
“These arrests days before the beginning of the Republican National Convention were an attempt to undercut turnout at the expected massive, legally permitted, anti-war rally planned for Monday, September 1, organized by the March on RNC Coalition, which will gather at the State Capitol and march to the RNC Convention site. The police, acting on orders from the RNC, clearly intend to use tactics of fear and intimidation to impact the days of protest planned for over a year by hundreds of justice and anti-war organizations.
“The only group of people who have come to Minneapolis-St. Paul with criminal intent are the delegates, corporate lobbyists, and politicians who are participating in the Republican National Convention. They are conspiring to continue the illegal war in Iraq. They are conspiring to wage another illegal war against Iran. They are conspiring to steal money from working people and use it to fund tax cuts for the wealthy. They are conspiring to continue to violate basic human rights by engaging in illegal wiretapping, surveillance, and police brutality at home, while running torture camps such as those in Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib.
“People have a right to protest at the RNC. I support and defend that right.”
Another site, Twin Cities Indymedia, reported Sunday evening that the National Lawyers Guild, a group of attorneys and law students based in New York, and Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin Cities organization, had filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against local police to prevent them from seizing video equipment and cellular phones used by independent media organizations.
The groups said examples of police interference with the right to document their conduct included the beating of CUAPB vice president Darryl Robinson while “copwatching,” the seizure of equipment of three journalists with Glass Bead Collective, and the targeting of journalists during a raid on a house in St. Paul Saturday afternoon.
“Another example is the action of Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies, who deliberately shut off CUAPB president Michelle Gross’ video camera while she was documenting Friday night’s raid from inside the convergence space,” the groups said. “This action prevented her from documenting the incident in its entirety. Despite their actions, Gross was able to capture about 7½ minutes of video and audio of the beginning of the raid, including use by deputies of a battering ram to force open the door to a upstairs theater where families were watching a film.”
Hennepin County Judge Mark Wernick has not yet acted on the request for the restraining order.