Wednesday, September 3, 2008

RNC update

We received an email this morning from United for Peace and Justice on the situation in St. Paul. Briefly, demonstrators there have been met with a heavily armed and aggressive police presence. Police have on occasion deliberately provoked peaceful protesters, used excessive force, harassed people simply walking along the street, stopped and searched vehicles for no clear reason, and raided houses used by organizers.

Leslie Cagan, UFPJ national coordinator, writes:

On Tuesday afternoon, they literally pulled the plug and turned off the electricity at a permitted outdoor concert. The timing of this led to a situation where hundreds of understandably angry people ended up joining a march being led by the Poor Peoples Campaign for Economic Human Rights, a march that organizers were insisting be nonviolent. In other words, the police set up a dynamic that could have turned ugly, but the skill of the organizers kept things calm and focused.

All of this - and much more - needs to be understood in the context of the overwhelming presence of police. Police from all around the Twin Cities have been put to work, and they have also brought in police units from around Minnesota and from as far away as Philadelphia, PA. The National Guard and state troopers are in the mix, to say nothing of the Secret Service, Homeland Security and who knows who else from the federal government!

Clearly our rights to assemble, protest, and speak freely are under attack. With two more days of convention scheduled, UFPJ urges everyone to take two actions:

First, to call the Mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman, at 651-266-8510. Tell him you are watching events and that he must stand up for Constitutional rights and reign in the police.

Second, this is a story that's gotten scant play in the media--call the mainstreamers and tell them you have had enough of the Sarah Palin show. Demand they tell the real story of what's happening in St. Paul this week.

For background, UFPJ recommends Marjorie Cohn's Counterpunch article, "Raiding Democracy in St. Paul."

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