Even though the DNC protests in Denver were undersized and essentially harmless, protesters in the Twin Cities planning similar protests at the RNC next week have, in the last 24 hours, been subjected to a series of appalling police raids and arrests. Journalists and lawyers present have also been detained, computers and other personal belongings seized — and all without a single illegal act being committed (by the protesters, anyway).
Protestors 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….
Additional reports are emerging of numerous other actions, including the ludicrous detention of a permaculture bus.
Greenwald’s phrase, “suspected protesters,” says it all: protest, by definition, is being considered illegal. This is the culmination of a tactic that’s been used with increasing frequency in recent years, though never on this scale: the blatantly illegal intimidation and arrest of people planning perfectly legal demonstrations, on the theory that the inevitable lawsuits and awards are simply part of the unlimited budget being given to local law enforcement in these types of major events in order to suppress dissent.
These, quite simply, are the acts of a police state. And they should inspire everyone to be less, not more, silent.