Tuesday, September 02, 2008

...And Minnesota Cops Go Berserk

Matt, tell the cops in your home state to calm the hell down:
Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

If you don't trust Glenn Greenwald's impartiality (why would you?), here's the Minneapolis Star-Tribune story, which elaborates a little more on the reasons for the raid. The cops say that they suspected more than just protesting - that they actually suspected that the groups would act to disrupt the convention, and that they raided pre-emptively to stop that.

One still wonders if the St. Paul police department hired the precogs from Minority Report.

Look, I understand the desire to keep order. But you don't raid someone's meetings and arrest them because they might do something illegal. That's just too awful for words. Police - and here I include the overzealous Denver cops as well - need to calm down. Not every protest is going to devolve into violence. Few do, in fact. No one wants another 1968 Chicago, but the chances of that actually happening are remote at best. We need to make the cops remember that their job in a protest is to stand by and jump in only if things get out of hand.

One last thing. Here's my reaction to the news that Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant. Ready? Here goes...


Next issue.


Matthew B. Novak said...

It's funny, because I generally think the police in MN are well-restrained. Of course, they're usually enforcing laws against fellow Minnesotans, who are equally nice. During the convention (and prior to it) there's a lot of out-of-staters, and a surprisingly large (and well organized...) group of anarchists, who's stated purpose is disruption of the convention; not protest, actual disruption.

Of course, none of that justifies premptive arrests. That just pisses me off.

Matthew B. Novak said...

An update from the Strib editorial board:

Editorial editor Scott Gillespie spent much of Monday watching the protesters and police interacting in St. Paul, and we're preparing an editorial on the topic. While there may have been isolated incidents in which police overreacted, by and large they appear to have done a good job. Less restrained were the radicals among the thousands of peaceable demonstrators. They appeared intent on creating property damage and disruption.

One of the more interesting comments I saw in response asked why all of the demonstrators for peace didn't step up to those engaged in violent protests.

Dammit, I'm sounding like an advocate for a police state. I'm really quite the opposite. Free speech should trump. If it really did, there would be far fewer protestors aimed at violence.

Ben said...

I heard something in the news about people setting cars on fire or something. Some sort of property damage. The people that did THAT should certainly be arrested. But not pre-emptively.