This is unFUCKINGbelievable:
Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving 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. 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.
Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning — one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a “hippie house,” where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with “peaceful kids” who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly…
[Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild,] indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is “conspiracy to commit riot.” Nestor, who has practiced law in Minnesota for many years, said that he had never before heard of that statute being used for anything, and that its parameters are so self-evidently vague, designed to allow pre-emeptive arrests of those who are peacefully protesting, that it is almost certainly unconstitutional, though because it had never been invoked (until now), its constitutionality had not been tested.
Update, 08/30/08, 9:00 PM:
Two Minnesota papers have released the addresses of the homes that were raided in their reporting of the events; this makes me uneasy, as the homes can now be targeted by right-wing whackjobs who aren’t wearing badges, but the stories are out there and they contain additional details provided by the victims of these raids. Further, the addresses are public record as a result of press releases from local law enforcement and will be available in court records soon, so I’m linking to the stories.
The first story is from the MinnPost: “Police crackdown: Rolling out the raid carpet,” and carries details from a press release regarding those who were arrested and accused of being “criminal anarchists.” The second is from the Minnesota Independent, “Police seize ‘propaganda literature,’ staples, curtain rods, and caltrops from raided home on 17th Avenue.”