"Since Friday, local police and sheriffs, working with the FBI, conducted preemptive searches, seizures and arrests. Glenn Greenwald described the targeting of protestors by "teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons 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." Journalists were detained at gunpoint and lawyers representing detainees were handcuffed at the scene.
"I was personally present and saw officers with riot gear and assault rifles, pump action shotguns," said Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who is representing several of the protestors. "The neighbor of one of the houses had a gun pointed in her face when she walked out on her back porch to see what was going on. There were children in all of these houses, and children were held at gunpoint."
The raids targeted members of "Food Not Bombs," an anti-war, anti-authoritarian protest group that provides free vegetarian meals every week in hundreds of cities all over the world. They served meals to rescue workers at the World Trade Center after 9/11 and to nearly 20 communities in the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina.
Also targeted were members of I-Witness Video, a media watchdog group that monitors the police to protect civil liberties. The group worked with the National Lawyers Guild to gain the dismissal of charges or acquittals of about 400 of the 1,800 who were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Preemptive policing was used at that time as well. Police infiltrated protest groups in advance of the convention.
"The Republicans are no longer the party of the rich, but the party of tyranny and dictatorship! These activities aimed at preempting lawful protests are not only criminal actions that violate the constitution, they are illegal uses of taxpayer funds; money paid by the taxpayers to track down and arrest robbers, killers, and rapists, not harass students and nuns expressing just criticism of the government's actions." -- Webmaster of Wake the Flock Up
"Police fire chemical agents, projectiles at RNC protesters
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) -- St. Paul police fired chemical agents and projectiles into a large crowd of protesters outside the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night.
Also watch: Video Coverage of RNC Protest Police Raids
See police spray marchers »
iReport.com: Cops swarm bikers, protesters
Watch police use pepper spray »
"Pre-emptive strike by police raises tensions
by Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
ST. PAUL -- Without any physical provocation, dozens of police officers on bicycles, on horseback, and in riot gear descended on several hundred people holding a peaceful anti-war rally on the steps of the State Capitol late this afternoon and arrested two men sitting unaware on the grass listening to a rock band.
The incident, witnessed by a Globe reporter, sparked a tense standoff between law enforcement and some of the demonstrators, with police brandishing pepper spray bottles at a crowd shouting "police state" before the situation calmed down.
Officers on the scene declined to say why the individuals were being arrested, but one officer who declined to give his name said he believed law enforcement officials had probable cause to believe the individuals were planning criminal acts.
Guilty before proven innocent. 'eh, fascista?!
WTF is this, MINORITY REPORT?
Several columns of police continued to surround the Capitol grounds in a clear show of force as organizers continued their program, criticizing the Republican Party for the war in Iraq and its support of corporations. More law enforcement personnel were seen descending on the area.
Among the crowd were a number of participants who said they had been arrested on Monday when nearly 300 protesters were jailed after a largely peaceful march to the convention site.
But today's rally, organized by a group called the Anti-War Committee and advertised as "No Peace for the War Makers," acquired a permit to rally on the Capitol grounds and was operating peacefully.
At today's rally, several of those who said they had spent the last few days in jail complained about false charges and being denied phone calls within 24 hours, and asserted that some of their comrades were being held unlawfully until the end of the convention.