first, lock up all the people with video cameras

In the comments following last night’s post about journalist Amy Goodman’s arrest in St. Paul, Hillary Cherry left a link to another video that I thought deserved to be up here on the front page. This video, taken by members of the group I-Witness, shows the police placing them, a group dedicated to videotaping police activities during events such as the Republican National Convention, under house arrest, and thus away from the Convention.

According to the organization, in the wake of the 2004 RNC, they were able to provide video contradicting the sworn testimony of several police officers, and thereby get the charges dropped against some 400 demonstrators… It makes perfect sense that the police would target them today.

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19 Comments

  1. Bob
    Posted September 3, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Really scary stuff. Its like any newspaper or TV station in the nation could come under a similar raid, maybe just because someone “in power” doesn’t like what they are writing or broadcasting. And to think, the founders of this country wanted a strong Bill of Rights, with freedom of the press, to stop this exact type of operation.

  2. mark
    Posted September 3, 2008 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s truly amazing what we’ve allowed to happen. We’re lazy and easily distracted. And that goes for us Democrats as well as Republicans. As long as we’re fed and have access to entertainment, there’s no problem… We’ll eventually reach the tipping point, though. It’ll be one small thing that pushes us over, like Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus. The right story at the right time, and it all comes down like a house of c-rds. Or, at least that’s my hope… The other alternative is that we try to revolt, like the Chinese did in Tiananmen Square, and find that it’s too late – that the government is too strong.

  3. mark
    Posted September 3, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    We need someone – a trusted figure in America – to get on live TV and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

  4. mark
    Posted September 3, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    And I think we need to look beyond the divisive issues, like taxes and abortion, and try to build some alliances across party lines. There are issues like privacy and the unchecked influence of lobbyists that, I think, resonate with people across lines. Perhaps our time is best spent there, building coalitions.

  5. Michael Schils
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. The media does the job it is paid to do when it focuses our attention on the divisive issues and diverts our attention away from the more important issues, which just happen to be more of a threat to the status quo.

    Mark, I appreciate that you continue to post regarding the undeclared police state in Minnesota.

  6. Robert
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I have to be honest. Amy Goodman’s behavior was a little annoying. It was a little like the “Don’t tase me bro” jackass…just a little. There is definitely something wrong when producers are arrested preemtively like her’s were though. I think Goodman was sort of trying to get arrested however, so they could get something on film. This is mostly because so many people are so dumb they need movies to get them to care about anything.

  7. Michael Schils
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Considering the situation, I thought Amy Goodman’s behavior was understandable and completely appropriate. If two of my colleagues were suddenly roughed up and arrested for no good reason, I would certainly be demanding to know what the hell was going on, too. AG actually conducted herself much better than I, as right now if I was in her shoes, I’d probably have taser scars and still be washing the pepper spray out of my eyes (or worse).

    But then again, I saw the taser bro incident much different than you, also.

  8. not one of the cool kids
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I just got this email from Michigan Peaceworks:

    TAKE ACTION!

    Call to Action on Behalf of Democracy Now!
    Journalists Facing Charges for Reporting on the Republican National Convention

    Today it is critical that you make your voice heard in the Ramsey County Attorney and St. Paul City Attorney offices. Demand that they drop all pending and current charges against journalists arrested while reporting on protests outside the Republican National Conventions.

    The Ramsey County Attorney’s office is in the process of deciding whether or not to press felony P.C. (probable cause) riot charges against Democracy Now! Producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Please contact Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner by all means possible to demand that her office not press charges against Kouddous and Salazar.

    Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner RCA@co.ramsey.mn.us (cc: dropthecharges@democracynow.org) 651-266-3222

    Susan Gaertner for Governor info@susangaertner.com (cc: dropthecharges@democracynow.org) (612) 978-8625 (612) 804-6156

    The St. Paul City Attorney’s office has already charged Amy Goodman with misdemeanor obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer. Contact St. Paul City Attorney John Choi by all means possible to demand that the charges against Goodman be dropped immediately.

    St. Paul City Attorney John Choi john.choi@ci.stpaul.mn.us (cc: dropthecharges@democracynow.org) (651) 266-8710

  9. ytown
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    More delusional libs

    http://www.twincities.com/news/ci_10384676?source=rncWidget

  10. Michael Schils
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Bush Pushes for More Police Power, Wednesday, September 3, 2008, by Nat Hentoff

    (My summary with comments)
    Quietly, Bush and Attorney General Michael Mukasey are pushing for new FBI guidelines that could target racial and ethnic groups (and others) without any evidence of wrongdoing.

    Four Democratic senators – Russ Feingold, Richard Durbin, Edward Kennedy and Sheldon Whitehouse have reminded the attorney general of his oath to protect the Constitution. Conspicuously, the dem leader Harry Reid has been silent on this matter.

    The four democrats object that the new FBI guidelines “might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities.

    These new rules will undermine the restrictions placed after the FBI abuses of the 1950s and 1960s.

    Mukasey also plans on replacing the “probable cause” requirement for search and seizure of the 4th Amendment with mere “sispicion”.

    The article states that Mukasey wants to start using these new rules on October 1. However, the reports, videos, and pictures of Gestapo-like “pre-emptive” raids over the last week from Minnesota indicate that these new rules are already being implemented.

    This of course fits a pattern we should all be used to by now. Our government breaks the law and then – from the Patriot Act through the FISA – they intimidate the weakly democrats into legislation designed to retroactively make their crime “legal”.

    As the author states, this would be a good time for Obama to speak out against this revision of the Bill of Rights. I would also add that if Barack came out right now and said that he would overturn these new rules when he’s elected, then that would certainly be “change I could believe in”. But I’m still waiting…(tapping toe to sound of crickits chirping)

    I now return you to your regular programming…(Palin, Palin, Palin)…

  11. ytown
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    “without any evidence of wrongdoing.” and you know this, how? I am sure you have an inside track to their investigations.

    “sispicion”. ?

  12. Michael Schils
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Of course, that should be “suspicion”. Thank you for spotting my typo.

    I’m not sure what your question is. The “without any evidence of wrongdoing” is in reference to the FBI initiating an investigation. The new rules will only require the FBI to have a “suspicion” but no evidence.

  13. ytown
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    So you assume that they didn’t have any evidence, because the rules supposedly say they don’t need any

  14. Posted September 5, 2008 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe I’m agreeing with ytown. He’s got a point.

  15. Michael Schils
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    OK, maybe I wasn’t clear enough, so I will try again.

    The FBI rules, as they stand now, require “probable cause” or evidence of wrongdoing before the FBI can initiate an investigation. Bush and Mukasey want to change this to allow the FBI to initiate an investigation if only there is a *suspicion of wrongdoing. Mukasey wants this change to go into effect by October 1.

    The police did not claim to have any evidence of wrongdoing prior to their “pre-emptive” raids this week in Minnesota. The charge of “conspiracy to riot” belies the fact that there was no evidence of a crime, but only a *suspicion that a crime would be committed in the future. Thus it appears that law enforcement is already operating under Mukasey’s proposed rule change and has already substituted mere suspicion for probable cause as a legitimate reason to investigate.

    Why do you assume the police had any evidence to support initiating their investigations when no evidence had been presented?

  16. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Michael Schils, I didn’t mean to trivialize Amy Goodman’s situation, or that of her producers. I think the conduct of this and other police departments in recent, similar situations is beyond reprehensible. It should be remembered though, that this is one group of officers, from one police department, in one terribly corrupt city. There are many places still left all across America, where this COULD NOT have happened.

    No matter what I think of Amy Goodman, illegal search a seizure is essentially a treasonous act against the people of the United States. Any police officer or military personnel who engages in the violation of rights afforded all American citizens by The Constitution, whether by order or as an individual, is committing a treasonous act.

    Any law enforcement official with any integrity will refuse to be used as a repressive political tool by any interest. They are sworn to The Constitution alone, and to no other loyalties. Those who place any other loyalty above The Constitution are betraying it, and their country.

  17. Michael Schils
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Ah, but you’re thinking of the way things were before 9-11-2001. The Patriot Act – which was put in place as much to silence domestic opposition as to ferret out real terrorists – changed everything. It has authorized the government to monitor our phone calls, e-mails, and political opinions. It has authorized the government to shut down anti-war groups and lock up innocent people as terrorists. It has done away with habeas corpus.

    After her arrest, Amy Goodman interviewed Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher and he admitted that the local Police used paid infiltrators to spy on activists during the months leading up to the RNC. Some of these infiltrators were spotted and exposed when they tried to pose as protestors after conducting raids as police officers the night before.

    The law enforcement at the RNC did not have to worry about lawsuits, because the Republican Party’s host committee bought insurance covering up to $10 million in damages and unlimited legal costs for law enforcement officials accused of brutality, violating civil rights and other misconduct.

    The City of St. Paul was granted $50 million in federal money to spend on security for the RNC. That bought a lot of “Triple Chaser Grenades”, pepper spray, “Impact Rounds”, and tasers. Without having to be concerned with lawsuits, the police didn’t have to be too careful. Many witnesses say the police were using these weapons with no provocation on the part of the protestors.

    As a commenter pointed out, by making the political viewpoint of anarchy synonymous with terrorism, and pointing to a few minor examples of property destruction from the first day, the main-stream-media was able to justify the use of violent force by the police against overwhelmingly non-violent protesters throughout the week.

    I have no idea what you have against Amy Goodman. She’s one of the few real journalists there are. That’s why she was targeted.

  18. Robert
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Michael Schils, I’m with you on everything you say. My problems with Amy Goodman are more about her personality and the way she comes across. I just see her as a bit goofy and in many ways the embodiment of a negative stereotype, I don’t like seeing reinforced. Outside of that, I like what she does, and I think it’s important.

  19. Meta
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    New video surfaces of the police crack down:

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/99433/incredible_documentary_footage_of_mass_arrest_in_st._paul/?id=123

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