If you don’t follow my Twitter updates, you probably missed much of the hubbub over yesterday’s police raids in the Twin Cities. In anticipation of the Republican National Convention, police have been raiding homes, detaining people and pulling over buses. Most of yesterday’s raids centered around a self-described anarchist group, the RNC Welcoming Committee. Five or six of their members were arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot and a number of weapons or potential weapons were seized (among them what could be some regular household items, what actually are weapons [slingshots mostly] and what’s just bizarre—buckets of urine, later explained by protesters to be a gray water system and not actual urine).
- The Pioneer Press gives a good and balanced overview of the raids.
- Also yesterday a bus was pulled over by a dozen police cars on a “routine traffic stop.” (Video of the traffic stop, first hand account)
- Today nine people were arrested for breaching the security perimeter.
- Right now I’m seeing tweets about a light rail train stopped by police.
It’s all kind of bizarre, and as early stories come in it’s hard to know who to believe (like I just blogged, nobody just disagrees, we have to insult, mislead and insinuate).
If you’re interested in following along:
- The Pioneer Press and Bob Collins’ News Cut blog are good, balanced sources.
- Less balanced (OK, that’s an understatement) is Minnesota Independent, but they post practically non-stop (so it’s a good source for up to the minute info, but take it with a big grain of salt).
- The Uptake also had a practically non-stop collection of videos (what they lack in balance and editing they make up for in shear speed and volume).
- Twitter is probably the best source: PiPress, Jason Barnett, MN Indy (same less-than-balanced folks I linked to above), Chuckumentary (co-founder of The Uptake, linked above) and coldsnaplegal (this one’s a little out there, very reactionary and somewhat deluded—in response to Monday’s RNC cancellations for Gustav: “Clearly, they’re scared of anarchist mayhem.”—but they do have on-the-ground, as-it-happens updates). There are certainly others, but those are the ones I’ve found.
It’s all a bit wild. I live about half a mile from one of the locations that was raided. Last night we returned from a friend’s house around midnight and drove by on the way home. Several dozen people were milling around outside, lots of people were walking in the area (weird for midnight). And I’ve never seen so many police cars driving around. It’s bizarre to have all of this happening in my backyard.
I’m all for the right to protest. That’s one thing that separates the United States from, oh, say China. But the protests have to be peaceful. Causing property damage and violence is not OK. Using slingshots, throwing urine (if that is what was intended, I’m rather doubtful) and disabling buses is not OK. But intimidation and detention without cause by the police isn’t OK either. It’s a thin line between keeping people safe and restricting free speech.
I’m torn between a desire to go downtown and watch, and stay home where it’s safe. That’s not a normal feeling in America.
It all may be moot anyway as it sounds like the RNC will be canceled, postponed, shortened or something in the face of Hurricane Gustav. (In the midst of all this I’m quickly forgetting about my Downtown St. Paul Art Map that I hoped to flog all week.)
Update: A few more Twitter folks w/ protest updates:
Update 2: A good article about how Twitter changed the experience of news. This has definitely been my experience this weekend. It’s not perfect coverage, it’s not always balanced coverage, but it’s fast, quick and vital.