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Preemptive Strikes Against Protest at RNC

Preemptive Strikes Against Protest at RNC
By Marjorie Cohn

In the months leading up to the Republican National Convention, the FBI-led Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force actively recruited people to infiltrate vegan groups and other leftist organizations and report back about their activities. On May 21, the /Minneapolis City Pages /ran a recruiting story called "Moles Wanted." Law enforcement sought to preempt lawful protest against the policies of the Bush administration during the convention.

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.

Nestor said that no violence or illegality has taken place to justify the arrests. "Seizing boxes of political literature shows the motive of these raids was political," he said.

Further evidence the political nature of the police action was the boarding up of the Convergence Center, where protestors had gathered, for unspecified code violations. St. Paul City Council member David Thune said, "Normally we only board up buildings that are vacant and ramshackle." Thune and fellow City Council member Elizabeth Glidden decried "actions that appear excessive and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for those who wish to exercise their first amendment rights."

"So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protestors who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do," Greenwald wrote on Salon.

Preventive detention violates the Fourth Amendment, which requires that warrants be supported by probable cause. Protestors were charged with "conspiracy to commit riot," a rarely-used statute that is so vague, it is probably unconstitutional. Nestor said it "basically criminalizes political advocacy."

On Sunday, the National Lawyers Guild and Communities United Against Police Brutality filed an emergency motion requesting an injunction to prevent police from seizing video equipment and cellular phones used to document their conduct.

During Monday's demonstration, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. At least 284 people were arrested, including Amy Goodman, the prominent host of Democracy Now!, as well as the show's producers, Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. "St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city to be," Greenwald wrote, "with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations."

Bruce Nestor said the timing of the arrests was intended to stop protest activity, "to make people fearful of the protests, but also to discourage people from protesting," he told Amy Goodman. Nevertheless, 10,000 people, many opposed to the Iraq war, turned out to demonstrate on Monday. A legal team from the National Lawyers Guild has been working diligently to protect the constitutional rights of protestors.


Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is the author of /Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law /and co-author of /Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent/ (with Kathleen Gilberd), which will be published this winter by PoliPointPress. Her articles are archived at

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Why don't they send these fucking "warrior wannabes" to Afghanistan or Iraq where they can try picking on people armed and dangerous instead of brown-shirting peace loving civilians?! Remember: These anonymous, black-dressed, armor-plated "TERRORISTS" are possibly the sons and daughters of peace-loving civilians. I consider anyone willing to stoop to this kind of violent level mentally ill...SICK! In Iraq, they blow up police stations in an effort to curb this kind of unconscionable action. Will it start happening here soon? Sooner or later "We The People" are going to get damn tired of bullies.

The most ironic thing about this piece is the caption that calls these programmed SICKOS "officers", a term of respect and intelligent authority. Puh-lease! They are programmed automatons with no Souls, mental illness, and hearts as black as their clothing.

I don't wan't to start any intense disaggreements here, im just wondering, those of you who Insist that the only propper way to deal with the problems we face in this country, is through peacefull means? Just like these people in MSP were doing. Just look at what they were subjected to.

Alot of people will burry their heads in the sand, and pretend this has not occured. hoping it will go away.

Then, ofcourse, considering the general apathy that will prevail, is it even worth fighting for this country at this point.

As for me actually, im quite adaptive and could survive in a society like what were heading toward. After all, considering that, why shoud I take the risk? I have all i want.
fighting for other's who would think I was just a trouble maker would be foolish of me, actually.

I can see when 80 percent of the population has been subjected to this type of treatment, or worse, and there ARE dentention camps, people will then be crying, and pleading , and asking, WHY DIDN'T YOU GUYS FIGHT TO STOP THIS? answer-"Cause noone cared when it could have mattered.


Ask this question of Gandhi. YES! We must ONLY use peaceful means NO MATTER how harsh the police become! Only then do we have the moral high-ground!




Another thing, suppose you had a son or a daughter in one of those homes and by sheer happenstance, the police open fire and kill your child? And afterward, the local government determines it was a justifiable occurence, but witnesses present testify that there was no provication actually.

Are you telling me you attitude would not change? you would, you could remain , still, passive?

Don't you all see whats happening here, in this country? That very passitivity your holding to is being played against you all to your subsequent demise? Don't you see that? Where all this is leading to?

Have we now bred a population of humans here that are totally incapible of putting up resistance with real substance? And if so, Who is going to protect you all from those who don't hold to that standard? tell me, who?

Something else on my mind al, is, what if a serious armed resistance dshould occure. Will you deny those who engadge in that support? Will you turn your back to those participants? Denying them aid and comfort?

Im not trying to promote an armed resistance. But from whare im standing, it already has started. The other side has taken the first steps and it can only escalate to a much more serious level from here. It's just a matter of the right time, the right people, and the right circumstances. It's latter than you think. Im sorry to say.

I've got news for you: It's been a LONG time since I thought "Peaceful "means" would work. I don't know where you got the idea that I'm a "Peacenik"? I'll leave that to alkeng and his "moral high ground". Me? Let's rock! At this point, I see no other way. And that is frustrating that it's the only way, because it ain't happenin' in ol' dumbed down, shit on me American culture. LET'S SHOP!!!

And although you and I share the exact state of mind, my thought regarding that move to resist at that level is, well, I would think it would require to some degree the blessing of a certain level amount of our fellow citizens before any action like I outline can be carried out. But you know how I think it's going to occure? Government forces, along with local cops somewhere are going to engadge in an activity a raid, a Kent State action, and that will be the spark that ignites the conflict. In the first year, our side will suffer defeat after defeat but over time, this will weaken the government more and more and at some point, some foreign government, or a collection of government's may elect to send millitary forces in here to assist us. Sometime late in the second year, or perhaps the third. Yes, history has repeatedly demonstrated that these types of conflicts evolve over time, and are not settled quickly. At the very least, the UN may have peace keeping forces stationed here and we'll see if that is good or otherwise. Who can tell. Conflict takes on a life of it's own. It's an unpredictible beast. On the other hand, subsequent to the ignition incidents I cite above, perhaps our own millitary commanders will do their duty and step forward and carry out a coup and assume control, arrest the guilty, and restore order peacefully and restore the constitution. We do still actually have loyal Americans at field command level.

There is one thing im sure of, the conflict has already begun. Our side just doesent realize it yet. There holding on to their denial as long as they can.
And you know, I don't blame them one bit.

I have been looking at different videos of protesting both at the DNC as well as, so far, THE RNC. And what im seeing from the conduct of both sides of the issue's, It is my beleif that soon we may bear witness to another KENT STATE type occurence, except, it is my beleif also, that todays police officer, has been conditioned, from subsequent exposure to so much societal negitive's, that these officers have lost their ability to associate any distinction between the individual's they face daily, and the citizen resistance groups that have been out protesting, that these officers are facing presently with an appearent readyness, and willingness to use excess force, and I suspect we may be heading toward a serious incident, however regretible it may be afterward, where they will resort to the use of force that can cause great bodily harm, or death. And this may be en-mass.

I viewed a video yesterday, where a MSP officer waded singly into a large group, grabed a protester, and began draging that protester away. The officer was attacked from his rear, by a brave single protester, and the officer lost his prey and then retreated.

It is clear to me, there is a slow drifting to escsalation to something worse occuring. It's just a matter of time.

I have a rather simple solution no one is mentioning here.... Stop paying taxes and go on about your business. You can even keep going to work if you must just file exempt.... I haven't filed a tax return since 2002... of course I also haven't been making enough money to anyway(on purpose). Me and my family of four have been living off of $530 a month ever since. Being hungry the last week out of every month is getting really hard to explain to my young kids but I would rather die of starvation than give these pigs one red cent of my hard earned money. You people can easily do the same thing. Be too poor to pay PERIOD!! .... or spend a few years in prison in about seven years.... either option is better than protecting your children and baby grandchildren from well funded swat teams for the rest of your lives ... however short they might be. JUST A HUMBLE SUGGESTION... I don't want to hear any crap from any of you!!!

Unless it's here:

Five hundred thirty? How is this possible? And this is by intention? I find the tax resistence tactic interesting, but what about the legal taxing deducting position relative to the employing unit?

I claim one exemption all year and have a minimum deduction all year. On the state level, this results in my having to pay up in Jan to ILLINOIS.

I've had run in's with THE IRS before where I ententionally screwed them. they'll come in, take all your property and eventually throw Your ass in a Federal Penitentury and then your associates will be gangsters, drug runners, murderers, robbers, child molesters, the worst kind of people. They don't segrigate tax resisters from the other's. No thanks. I don't have THAT kind of courage.

I quit giving "ammunition" to the warmonger guns also, J.D. Although, the little I earn is enough for me--barely--it BELONGS TO ME. How dare they tax people below the poverty level when churches, corporations, and the filthy rich pay little or nothing?!

Many years ago my anger and outrage overcame the fear-mongering I was programmed with over all my early life of buying the Big, Bad I.R.S. propaganda. I'm with you, My Friend, but my only concern is: they will buy more paper and print more worthless "greenbacks" anyway! However, as I said before, my money is my blood and sweat--NOT the government's.

In a fair system? 1.) I would pay a fair share except during time's like these of illegal invasions. 2.) My tax rate would be non-existent anyway due to the above-mentioned wealthy entities doing THEIR fair share.
Until then, in a word: FUCKEM!!!

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