The FBI Agent, the Retired Colonel, and the Anarchists.

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Sat, Aug 30, 2008

Justice For Palestine

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I’m cross-posting this from over at Feministing, where I’ll also be blogging for the week.

It’s like a joke here in St. Paul—but one that’s not terribly funny. What does it take to get whistle-blower and former FBI agent Anne O’Hare McCormick, retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, and a roomful of dirty anarchists together in an unkempt rec room that, until a few hours ago, was locked on specious charges of fire-code violation? Not much, it turns out.

At about 9 p.m. on August 29th, several fully armed police officers used a battering ram to force their way into the re-worked institutional building now known as the RNC Welcoming Committee’s Convergence Space, threw by some accounts 30, by others 60, activists of all ages—from the pee-in-their-pants-young to the health-issue old—to the floor, handcuffed them, and detained them for two hours, busting in with battering rams and confiscating personal computer equipment on their way out.

Rebekah, a 15-year old from Madison, WI, was there. She spent two and a half hours laying on the floor facedown before officers noticed her and released her—clearly having forgotten about her (and her status as a minor). It’s actually not legal, she knows, to set her free her unless she’s released into the custody of her parents, but they didn’t care: there’s some question too about whether or not they should have raided the building without a warrant, shoved loaded guns in the faces of minors, photographed everyone present, and handcuffed and intimidated young children in the first place, so there’s some grey area here.

What had she been dong when the raids hit? “I was coloring this,” she gestures to a picture she’s finishing up, a glittery pink and purple thing with elephants and flowery handwriting. “Reclaim the elephant,” it says. There are also sunflowers. It’s very cute.


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She’s dedicating it to other survivors of the Convergence Space raids.

Another woman perhaps in her 60s, a teacher, was cuffed for slightly less time, two hours, and describes the two waves of officials that stormed into the building: first sherrifs, then police. She and some friends—one a very young boy—were upstairs watching a movie. Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers. When the police confiscated the DVD player, they also stole her movie.

Even the convenience store worker, Gina, that worked down the road was caught in the raid. Just driving the two blocks from the SuperAmerica past the Convergence Space to her home had a cop pulling her over and searching her vehicle.

“I was wearing my uniform,” she told me. She didn’t look like an anarchist. No way. Just a SuperAmerica worker.

“I told them, I’m graduating from the police academy in two weeks. So, where is your warrant for searching my vehicle? I don’t consent to this.”


<br />This afternoon, the former Colonel and FBI agent and all the scruffy losers I adore were all converging on the reopening of the Convergence Space, and activists of all sorts had gathered to rally press and support and bystanders. The press conference lasted about half an hour. 

As David Bickens, father of arrestee and RNC organizer Marjorie Bickens—still in detention as of publication—claimed, “My daughter was arrested for her commitment to peace and justice.”

One of the press conference organizers received updates as to new arrests and detainments—some police are claiming that, given the weekend and the holiday, arresting people now means they can be held for 36 hours without being charged, which would put us at, what, Tuesday night? Halfway through the conference—as they unfolded. By the end of the press conference, she’d received notice that 12 more activists had been detained.






One group of activists, all employed by the extremely legit-sounding Organic Consumers Association on their way to the press conference, witnessed on the way a group of young people in a white van being pulled over by undercover cops, who forced the crew out of the van and demanded they walk backwards down the sidewalk. Alexis Baden-Mayer happened to be standing nearby.

“Get out of the line of fire or we’ll shoot you,” the cops told her.

So what does it take to have an entire city—a traditionally progressive blue collar one, but drifting toward the conservative of late—and the majority its intellectuals, activists, attorneys, youth, and educators up in arms? Excessive, illegal police brutality, clearly intended to scare the masses away from their first amendment-guaranteed right to freedom of speech.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/johnpieper John Pieper

    This is Shameful he in the Twin Cities!

  • Bob

    Freedom of speech is alive and well…if you keep your mouth shut or agree with those in power. I remember college kids being beaten for sitting in front of a student office. Not doing anything but sitting. Sure, they were protesting the war. Vietnam. But only by sitting on the grass which was usually considered public and available. Not that day. My first experience of official violence against US citizens by US legal personnel.
    It changed my life forever.

  • Alan V Bickley

    This in a week when Senators Obama and Biden and their devotees boasted of the candidates having passed legislation that put another 100-thousand cops on the streets of America. Say what you will about an undetermined portion of those cops and the ones they join being professional and ethical, some portion are sadistic thugs, contemptuous of the idea that people below the economic level of the owners of the country have rights and insanely contemptuous of people who assert those rights. Shame on the Denver city government! Shame on the political masters of the Twin Cities police!

  • Rick

    Sounds a bit like Babies crying about new kids in their sandbox.
    Reprobates and demigods crying because their PARTY has been found out, and, the next generation is getting in to play, so, they throw sand and toys all around and cry that “it’s all their fault’.

    This is not a game, this is life, and the two parties in power, the Democrats got our gold in 1933, and they also got the silver the day after Kennedy was shot (Look at LBJ’s first orders of business), and Nixon, to avoid criminal prosecution, agreed to totally suspend the backing of the dollar with silver by CLOSING the window, permanently.

    So, Since our Soveriegnty was tied to our ability to control government by having the Soveriegn(COIN MONEY) in our hand, they have reduced America to the land of peons.

    The problem with politics in America IS the Republican and Democrat parties.

  • http://www.parentsforethicalmarketing.org/blog/2008/09/01/political-platforms-ignore-corporate-influence-on-children-rnc-is-calling/ Corporate Babysitter » Blog Archive » Political platforms ignore corporate influence on children; RNC is calling

    [...] of Parents for Ethical Marketing Anne Elizabeth Moore is in town and blogging the RNC. You can also follow her on [...]

  • http://www.zionstation.com KeshetYashuaIsrael

    Shalom and Namaste!

    I have “run the country” vagabonding for 14 years, sharing the anointing of God (Exodus 30:23;Google: Kaneh Bosm) and protesting along the routes. I have seen the cops harass people all over the country and it become worse and worse.

    I myself have been beaten on by police atleast 4 times just in my own travels to protests or spiritual gatherings. Even the gatherings have been fighting since 72 for the continued right to assemble freely upon the land to fellowship as children of God.

    Keshet Yashua Israel

  • Janet W

    I’ve said and written it a thousand times, and I’ll write it again here: we stand up and exercise our rights (and sometimes get arrested in the attempt), or our rights wither away. Twin Cities folks, show your spirit!

  • Sally

    In your article was the following observation:

    “I was wearing my uniform,” she told me. She didn’t look like an anarchist. No way. Just a SuperAmerica worker.

    Please keep in mind that anarchists are not produced using a mold. A SuperAmerica worker could be an anarchist. Anarchists come in all shapes and sizes, and many look almost normal. Furthermore, the majority of anarchists are not bomb throwers who might “deserve” that sort of treatment.

    So I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that it would have been ok to abuse these activists if they had been anarchists.

  • sfg

    love your site

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