As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Proud To Be An American

Despite attending the DNC convention, the presence of protesters wasn't all that prominent unless you knew where to look. The security presence was palpable, and there definitely were lots of anti-abortion activists in the streets, but overall you had to look for and find the more wide-scale protests that were expected. And the cops actually facilitated the Tent State march on the Pepsi Center on Wednesday by leading the parade.

The RNC is far different, at least so far. Before one activist has hit the streets, before the delegates have even assembled, there is a coordinated effort by law enforcement to raid suspected protesters and imprison them.

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with sub-machine guns drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

Here's some streaming video of an ongoing raid as well. Lindsay Beyerstein has further info on another raid. There are reports of law enforcement snatching people off the streets as well. The National Lawyers Guild is dispatching attorneys to these sites and then THEY are being detained. This is a full-on police state in the Twin Cities so the authoritarians can hold their party without being burdened with dissent.

This is the 21st century reality of a growing surveillance state and how the feds handle big events - with brute force and ruthlessness. The STASI would be impressed.

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