Some will say "whatever happened to free speech," but for me its deja vu all over again.
In a ruling that would have made Mayor Daley proud a federal court in Minneapolis decided that there were no lessons to be learned from the 1968 Democratic Convention. Judge Joan Ericksen said the government officials have security reasons to justify the restrictions on the permit for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War.
For those of you too young to remember, Chicago back then in '68 decided that those nasty hippie radicals should not be allowed to camp in city parks during the convention...the result was a police riot, street battles, and shame for the Windy City (see first picture above).
I'll tell you one lesson learned after the Chicago convention once and for all was that the whole notion of even bothering with the whole "permit thing" was a waste of time.
"The streets belong to the people" became a popular cry.
One group that I suspect agrees with that cry is the The RNC Welcoming Committee which states boldly:
"For those of you who abhor the rapid growth of racist militarized borders across stolen lands, the raids and deportations, destruction and commodification of our shared and living earth, police brutality and prison industry, fear propaganda and subjugation, exploitation and robbery of peoples worldwide, and all forms of injustice and oppression - we ask you to be prepared for 2008. This will require new alliances, strong networks, the awakening of those who’ve given up, as well as the mobilization of those who’ve never before taken action. Let’s use this opportunity to make the changes we thirst for manifest and take root before us, making the Republicans/Democrats (whatever you want to call them) obsolete."
The group also makes just as clear what it wants:
"1. Build Our Capacity – A new reality will not emerge by simply stopping the 4 day spectacle of the RNC. We need folks with an alternative vision to come to the Twin Cities and turn their dreams into reality. Start something new, be creative, and come ready to build sustainable alternatives worth fighting for and defending. The new skills that we teach, learn, and put into practice here will allow us to return to our communities stronger, smarter, and more empowered.
2. Crash the Convention – We didn’t get an invitation, but we’re showing up anyway. This party will be what we make of it. We don’t want to confine our potential by imposing a single vision of what success will look like. We recognize that there will be a lot of people coming with their own agendas and carefully laid plans and want to be open to the diverse tactics that will be necessary to accomplish our many goals. Together, we can derail the purely ceremonial show of this repressive system and remake it with our own hands and according to our own visions."
The following good advise comes from The Protest RNC 2008 Coalition. I'm printing it in full.
"Hey friends, comrades and community members!
A FRIENDLY REMINDER: DON'T TALK TO COPS! "
As the Republican National Convention draws
closer and the number of federal agent encounters
increases, the Protest RNC 2008 Coalition reminds
you not to talk to police, FBI or any other
governmental agents. The Protest RNC 2008
Coalition is working to expose recent encounters
that have occurred in our homes, neighborhoods
and communities. The only role played by agents
in these encounters is to facilitate breakdown
of community solidarity. "
The FBI recently offered compensation to an
individual to spy on “vegan potlucks” and provide
information that would lead to arrests of
(see Moles Wanted at www.midwestgreenscare.org)."
The St. Paul police department recently made phone calls and issued
letters to activist groups from their so-called
"Free Speech Liaison Team” in which they stated
they consider communication with activists
similar to hostage negotiations. "
Not only are these efforts by agents of the state
thinly-veiled attempts to gather intelligence on
our groups, they are also meant to subvert the
important solidarity we have forged through the
St. Paul Principles. Many of these attempts
involve friendly-sounding agents who try to
convince us they are "on our side" but make no
mistake--they are not. No matter what they say,
these agents are not here to assist you in any
way. Any information you provide can lead to your
arrest or the arrest of others you know. Police
are eager to find ways to counteract the
excellent organizing our community has done over
the past year. Let's not give it to them."
Here are three common types of encounters used by
the police or FBI to obtain information about activists:
Conversation: When the police are trying to get
information, but don't have enough evidence to
detain or arrest you, they'll try to get the
information from you. They may call this a
“casual encounter” or a "friendly
conversation.” Even if you think the information
is meaningless, you may unwittingly help
them. It's always better and safer to refuse to
talk to police. If approached by a cop, say
"officer am I being detained or am I free to
go?" If you aren't being detained, leave. "
Detention: Police can detain you only if they
have reasonable suspicion that you are involved
in a crime. (Reasonable suspicion is a complex
topic but generally involves specific facts that
provide some objective manifestation that the
person detained may be involved in criminal
activity.) Detention means that although you
aren't arrested, you can't leave. Detention is
supposed to last a short time and you aren't
supposed to be moved to another location. During
detention, the police can only pat down the
outside of your clothes or look into your bag or
backpack if they have probable cause to believe
you have a weapon. They aren't supposed to go
into your pockets unless they first feel a weapon
through your clothing. Always state, "I do not
consent to this search." If police ask
questions, say “I am going to remain silent. I
want a lawyer,” and nothing else. A detention can
easily turn into arrest. If the police are
detaining you and they get information that you
are involved in a crime, they will arrest you
even if it has nothing to do with your detention.
The purpose of detention to try to obtain enough
information to arrest you. "
Arrest: If you are arrested, the cops can search
you and go through any belongings. It never
hurts to say, "I do not consent to this
search." Better yet, keep any contraband or
important documents at home. Be aware that
anything you say will be picked up by the squad
camera. Therefore, DON'T SAY ANYTHING except “I
am going to remain silent. I want a lawyer.” No
matter what happens, resist the temptation to
answer questions or make statements. Once in the
jail, you will be required to give your legal
name and address. Do not discuss your case with
anyone in the jail. Assume everything you say in
jail is being recorded, including telephone
conversations and conversations with lawyers."
You or someone you know can be approached by a
cop or FBI agent in any environment at any time:
at home, in a car or on the street. They will
continuously put pressure on you to talk to them
by trying to engage you in questioning, playing
the role of a “good” cop, saying that they know
everything already, etc. Regardless of their
reassurances, threats or questions continue to
say: “I am going to remain silent. I want a
lawyer”. This is the only way to ensure safety
for yourself and the people around you. "
If you are approached by a cop or FBI agent,
document (discretely) as well as possible whether
it be through pictures, notes, or
video-taping. After the encounter is over,
contact everyone you know as soon as possible and
post your encounter anonymously to list serves,
websites and forums. It's everyone's job to keep
ourselves and our movements safe from
infiltration and spying by police
authorities. Know your rights and report any
incidents to the rest of the movement. To learn
more about what to do if approached, please visit
the National Lawyers Guild website at http://www.nlg.org."
For those who are looking for up close and personal legal advice as to their rights in what will be a hot time in the city. There will be a FREE know-your-rights training presented by Coldsnap Legal Collective.
Friday, July 25th
5 p.m., Loring Park
right before Critical Mass!
Meet up at the fountain in Loring Park right before Critical Mass to learn how to protect yourself during encounters with the police. The more you know your rights, the more you can prevent the cops from trampling them...and the better you can protect yourself in the legal system when/if they do!
And remember one of those good ole 68 chants, "THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING!"
The following is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Federal judge rules against RNC protesters
A federal judge in Minneapolis issued a decision today, upholding the terms of a demonstration permit issued by the St. Paul police department for an antiwar march at the Republican National Convention.
U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen rejected virtually every argument made by attorneys for the protest group who had sought a march route that would have come close to encircling the Xcel Energy Center and would have continued later into the day so delegates would see the demonstrators when they arrived for an evening session on Sept. 1.
Citing past court decisions, Ericksen adopted the view of the St. Paul police department and the city of St. Paul that it was granting unprecedented access to the protesters for a convention of a major political party.
The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War applied for a permit in October 2006 to march on the convention on the first day of the four-day event. The group eventually received a permit from the police on May 16 of this year. Since then, the police have agreed to slight changes in the permit route and under the current terms of the permit, protesters will be allowed to march on the convention, starting at the State Capitol, from noon to 4 p.m., but marchers must clear a small intersection across the street from the Xcel Center by 3 p.m.
The coalition wanted the march to pass by both sides of the Xcel Center, and start later, so that activists from other cities could participate in the march and so delegates arriving at the evening session would see them.
Ericksen said in her opinion that the march would pass near media tents so journalists would see the demonstrators.
She also said that police were willing to accommodate the coalition's demonstration if there was a morning or early afternoon session.
She also noted that with the presence of high ranking officials, including the President and Vice President, and the possible security threats to the convention outlined by the Secret Service, the city of St. Paul and police department "have a substantial interest in securing the area immediately surrounding the convention site."
She also noted that police have cited the possibility that other groups were threatening to seek to shut down the convention site through blockades.
"By preventing encirclement of the convention site, the denial of the coalition's application minimizes the potential for a blockade," Ericksen wrote.
Teresa Nelson, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said last week that it could be expected that there would be an appeal of the case to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals by whichever party lost in district court.
The protest groups are represented by attorneys for the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and several attorneys from prominent local law firms who have donated their time.