More Than 300 Arrested Thursday Night in St. Paul – 818 Arrests for the Week
By Emily Yehle / Roll Call Staff / September 5, 2008
Police arrested more than 300 people Thursday night near the Minnesota Capitol, bringing the total arrests in St. Paul this week to 818.
Most were charged with unlawful assembly after the Anti-War Committee staged a rally and march at about 5 p.m. without a city permit. Hundreds of protesters showed up.
Within 10 minutes, more than 100 police in riot gear – on foot as well as riding horses, bicycles and motorcycles – stopped the crowd on John Ireland Boulevard, near Rice Street. They used snowplows to further block passage on a bridge.
Over the next several hours, the crowd tried several avenues to march to the Xcel Energy Center, where the Republican National Convention was held and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) accepted the party’s presidential nomination Thursday night. Police blocked them all, never letting the protesters get past Interstate 94.
Police finally arrested more than 300 people on Marion Street Bridge, hours after the protest began and right before McCain’s speech.
No violence took place at the protest, said Pete Crum, a spokesman for the St. Paul Joint Information Center. And most of those arrested were cited and then released at different drop-off points around the city.
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota have criticized the mass arrests this week, pointing out that city and county attorneys have dismissed most of the charges for lack of evidence.
But police officials said throughout the week that they encourage peaceful protests and are primarily concerned with violent anarchists – some of whom broke windows, slashed tires and assaulted delegates and visitors Monday.
When asked Thursday morning about how police would handle that night’s protest, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said the department would try to accommodate peaceful gatherings.
“The plan is really about being at the ready,” he said, “not about being in crisis mode.” Here’s the article.
50,000 Petitions Protesting Journalist Arrests at RNC Delivered Today in St. Paul
By Dave Astor / Editor & Publisher / September 05, 2008 12:10 PM ET
NEW YORK Independent journalists and local advocates this morning delivered petitions with more than 50,000 signatures to St. Paul City Hall, according to the Free Press media-reform group.
The petitions call on Mayor Chris Coleman and law-enforcement officials to drop all charges against journalists arrested while covering protests outside the Republican National Convention,
Those arrested Monday included “Democracy Now!” host/King Features Syndicate columnist Amy Goodman, two producers from her show, and Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke.
“The targeting and harassment of journalists that we’ve seen during the RNC sends the message that the Twin Cities don’t value the essential role that journalists play in a democracy,” said Nancy Doyle Brown of Twin Cities Media Alliance in a statement. “From the pre-convention raids to the ongoing harassment and arrests of journalists, these have been dark days for press freedom in the United States.”
Other media groups criticizing the arrests have included the Society for Professional Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Here’s the original.