Wow. Since the Bush gang obtained power in 2001, the First Amendment has suffered. After 9/11, if you dared question the Bush administration, your patriotism was questioned. If you wanted to protest our leaders, you were put into “first amendment zones” where you were allowed to speak your mind, as long as you did so far away from others. We saw some members of the executive branch try to elevate Christianity to our state religion.
So I shouldn’t be shocked by this story:
Aided by informants planted in protest groups, authorities raided at least six buildings across St. Paul and Minneapolis to stop an “anarchist” plan to disrupt this week’s Republican National Convention.
From Friday night through Saturday afternoon, officers surrounded houses, broke down doors, handcuffed scores of people and confiscated suspected tools of civil disobedience.
Hmm. There were some suspect items in one of the houses that was raided, but geez. The police had informants in the protest groups? Are dissenters ever free to dissent without police infiltration?
But it gets worse. From Glenn Greenwald:
Following up on this weekend’s extreme raids on various homes, at least 50 people were arrested here today in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — 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. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies.
I was in Washington in 2001 to protest Bush’s inauguration and DC seemed pretty damned militarized at the time, but that was before we really got to know Bush/Cheney.
It’s hard to imagine what kind of presence the police departments in the Twin Cities have in place to intimidate people from exercising their free speech rights, but it sounds damn bad.
More from Greenwald:
Perhaps most extraordinarily, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now — the radio and TV broadcaster who has been a working journalist for close to 20 years — was arrested on the street and charged with “conspiracy to riot.”
I just attended a Press Conference with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief John M. Harrington and — after they boasted of how “restrained” their police actions were — asked about the journalists and lawyers who had been detained and/or arrested both today and over the weekend. They said they wouldn’t give any information about journalists who had been arrested today, though they said they believed that “one journalist” had been, and that she “was seemingly a participant in the riots, not simply a non-participant.”
So let me get this straight. Police raided several homes where protesters were organizing and now have such a huge presence in Minneapolis/St. Paul that they are arresting respected journalists simply for doing their jobs?
Sadly, it sounds about par for the course.
My hope is that tomorrow, when press coverage turns away from Gustav and to the RNC, the mainstream media will give some fair coverage to this story. But then, I also hope that when I go to work tomorrow, the problems of domestic violence and homelessness will be gone and I’ll be able to put magic pixie dust into my car tank.