North Star Health Collective announces press conference to denounce police detention and abuse of medical volunteers

September 5, 2008

Sept 4, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Kim Christoffel and Kat Donnelly, North Star Health Collective: (800) 719-6487, ext. 6

Tomorrow, Friday September 5th, at 12 pm there will be a press conference at the southeast entrance of Ramsey County Jail on Lafayette Road in St. Paul. This is North Star Health Collective’s first official press conference.

LOCAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS DENOUNCE POLICE DETENTION AND ABUSE OF MEDICAL VOLUNTEERS

Saint Paul, MN – A group of local and national health care providers has been offering first aid to protesters and city residents during the RNC protests. This aid has been offered to people exercising their first amendment rights to protest. The care providers have witnessed law enforcement harassment of EMTs, RNs and other first aid providers while they were engaged in providing care, including approximately 25 arrests (10 of which were made during the writing of this press release Thursday night). Members of the North Star Health Collective (NSHC), a local group coordinating medical response during the protests, will hold a press conference Friday morning to bring attention to these incidents and testimonies of medical personnel present in the street.

NSHC will be highlighting examples like this:

*On Monday evening, two clearly marked providers, giving care to a paraplegic, were forcibly thrown to the ground by police and arrested. Explained Sean P. McCoy, a U.S. Navy Veteran and trained EMT:

“My medic partner and I were treating a handicapped male in a wheelchair for pepper spray to the face at the parking lot of Jackson Street. In the process of treating the patient, we were surrounded by several police officers in riot gear and forcibly thrown to the ground and told we were under arrest. We were then forcibly removed from our patient, handcuffed, and forced to lay face down on the ground while the officers proceeded to cut our bags off of us and remove all of our medical gear by dumping it on the ground.”

Mr. McCoy was held for over 55 hours in Ramsey County Jail, and, like many other protesters, locked in his cell for over 23 hours a day.

During the press conference, members of the group will display examples of the kind of projectiles they have seen police fire into crowds of people, often at point blank range.
Explained Garth Kahl, an NEMT-B from Oregon:

“There is a reason that these are called less-lethal weapons as opposed to non-lethal weapons. The indiscriminate firing of baton rounds, sponge grenades, and other blunt force projectiles in crowded areas is highly dangerous and irresponsible.”

Kim Christoffel, a graduate student in social work at the University of Minnesota and a local coordinator with NSHC, states:

“Our goal has been to keep people safe in areas that local EMS vehicles cannot quickly reach. Our observation of harassment of medical personnel contradicts police statements that claim that their actions have been directed at keeping everyone safe during the protests. It is shocking that providers have been arrested while attending injured and distraught people. NSHC never thought it would be necessary to say it, but apparently it is: ‘Providing medical care is not a crime.’ ”

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Standoff on John Ireland Bridge ends (we’ll be back…)

September 4, 2008

from the Star Tribune:

Eric Thayer, Getty Images

A woman is taken into custody by police as activists take part in a rally at the State Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

Last update: September 4, 2008 – 6:29 PM

Dozens of police officers in riot gear and on horseback blocked about 500 people who had gathered for an anti-war protest on the final day of the Republican National Convention from crossing the John Ireland Boulevard bridge over I-94.

Leaders of the protest ended the standoff at 6 p.m., telling their group that they would take a different route to the Xcel Energy Center. The standoff lasted about an hour.

The group earlier rallied at the State Capitol, and started marching after their permit expired at 5 p.m. They attempted to make their way toward the Xcel, where delegates were arriving to hear John McCain’s acceptance speech.

more here

CHECK Twin Cities Indymedia , Coldsnap Twitter, RNC08announce & Tin Can Comms

for updates


Police attack protesters at State Capitol; arrest 4

September 4, 2008

from the Star Tribune:

Dozens of police officers in riot gear and on horesback flooded onto the State Capitol lawn at about 4 p.m. today in a confrontation with about 400 people who had gathered for an anti-war protest on the final day of the Republican National Convention.

The group plans to march to the Xcel Energy Center as delegates begin arriving to hear John McCain’s acceptance speech.

Meredith Aby, a spokesperson for the Anti-War Committee, said the group’s permit expires at 5 p.m., which she called unsatisfactory because they want the delegates to know their views against the war. So the group plans to march without a permit.

“They are trying to steal our protest,” Katrina Plotz said from the rally stage in front of the Captol steps. “We need to ignore the police intimidation.”


Cops were ‘spoiling for a fight’

September 4, 2008

from the Star Tribune:

As the city of St. Paul heads into one last day of convention hoopla — and one final day of protests — state civil liberties leaders have accused St. Paul police of making many improper arrests and in some cases, provoking more problems.

“I think some of the police on the street have been very aggressive physically,” said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota. “The phrase is ‘spoiling for a fight.'”

full story here


RNC 08 video

September 4, 2008

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 https://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


Statement from the RNC Welcoming Committee

September 2, 2008

PRESS STATEMENT FROM RNC WELCOMING COMMITTEE ON DAY 2 OF REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION RESISTANCE
September 2, 2008
rncwcmedia[at]riseup.net

[A statement read on behalf of the RNC Welcoming Committee, especially on behalf of the members of the Welcoming Committee who continue to be held without bail by Sheriff Bob Fletcher and who are being kept in 23 hour solitary confinement]

First, let us start by saying thank you.

Thank you to the 1000’s of people who courageously faced 10 ton buses, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, batons, charging horses, gas masks, rubber bullets, and all of the tools of repression and intimidation that were used yesterday to repress the public in this supposed democracy. Your direct actions stand in stark contrast to the conventioneers inside the Xcel Energy Center, passively dragging the party line and the rest of this world down with it.

We are inspired by the extraordinary people who stopped buses, blocked highway ramps, and breached concrete barriers to reclaim the streets and recapture the space of downtown St Paul. We are excited about what the next few days may bring, now that the illusion of business as usual has been shattered.

The actions taken yesterday prove that the tactics of intimidation, harassment, violent oppression, the snatching of specific individuals, and the profiling of activists will not stop committed people from taking to the streets for what they believe in and putting their bodies behind those convictions. These tactics were seen yesterday in the targeting of medical workers, journalists, legal observers, and the public. They are the same tactics used daily by police and governments around the world to terrorize and oppress those that they claim to serve.

Indeed, after a long hard day of losing control in the streets and having to resort to calling in the National Guard, Sheriff Bob Fletcher continues the raids on homes, public spaces, and our lives. It isn’t surprising that these tactics continue, especially now that Sheriff Fletcher and the mayor’s office are faced with the challenge of trying to spin 284 arrests and climbing, 130 of those people being charged with felonies, along with massive police and military brutality. In spite of the arrests of our friends, we are excited by the fact that the number of people willing to take to the streets and express their dissent is growing, and we proudly support the March for Our Lives happening in St Paul today.

The infrastructure that has been created for these actions with the help and support of the twin cities community has been amazing. 100’s of people in Minneapolis and St. Paul have opened their homes to 1000’s of protesters, Locals and newcomers have taken time off work and from their lives to cook meals, provide medical care, legal support, and transportation. We understand that it must be intimidating to see people organizing for themselves around the idea of mutual aid and solidarity, but in doing this we are actively creating the world we want to live in. This is work that we will continue to do for the rest of our lives.

See you in the streets,
The RNC Welcoming Committee
http://nornc.org