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Peaceful Protest Marred by Small Band of Anarchists

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In the hours leading up to the RNC, prostestors filled the front lawn of the Minnesota state capitol and marched several blocks to the convention grounds. (Sarah Lovenheim / washingtonpost.com)

By Holly Watt
ST. PAUL -- Police helicopters and multicolored kites flew over the state Capitol building here as thousands of protesters marched on the Republican convention, which opened this Labor Day afternoon.

The police estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 people joined the rally, which ended outside the Xcel Center and resulted in 56 arrests.

The antiwar demonstration was largely peaceful, but a small group of anarchists smashed windows and set a dumpster on fire en route.

"There was a splinter group that came here to cause trouble," said Tom Walsh, a public information officer for the St. Paul police.

The crowds gathered at the Capitol grounds in the morning, as speakers and dancers performed. As the protesters made their way towards the conference center, they waved homemade signs ranged from "Bush/McCain = McSame" to "GOP -- Government, Oh Please."

A group of Iraq war veterans pushed a coffin, covered in an American flag and army fatigues, in memory of Lieutenant Corporal Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. The father of Army Specialist Juan M. Torres carried a photograph of his son, who died in Afghanistan.

Jose Rodriguez, a Vietnam war veteran from Houston, said he considered voting for Sen. John McCain, but could not after eight years of the Bush administration. "Iraq is an unjustified war. Kids are dying for nothing," he said. "We've got too many old people running things already."

Many families had come for a day out and were enjoying the carnival atmosphere. Suzannah Ciernia said she had come from Northfield, Minn., with her friend Cindy Robinson and was having a fun day. "We're a couple of moms for peace. My husband is over with the war veterans and my son is over with the students group."

Mike and Sue Starr traveled from Anoka, Minn., to protest against Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the war. "He is a five-time deferment and he is sending our son to war. Our son leaves in two weeks for eleven or twelve months," said Mike Starr.

The war in Iraq was not the only issue being highlighted. Activists championed same sex marriages, legalizing marijuana, an end to homelessness and better access to health care.

Maria Morales, from Racine, Wis., was coordinating Voces de la Frontera, a group that supports immigrant workers. "It's exciting, I hope something comes out of this," she said. "We need legalization of the 12 million."

Many waved Obama 08 signs and "I back Barack" T-shirts were on sale for $10 each.

James Murphy, from Plymouth, Minn., showed up in counterprotest, waving the sign, "Drill North Dakota." Other protesters waved signs supporting the troops, saying "United for a Strong America."

"I think they expected a lot more protesters," said Murphy. "The hurricane's taken the wind out of their sails."

There was a strong police presence along the march, with many officers in full riot gear.

Some complained of strong-arm police tactics throughout the holiday weekend. Doante Davis, 31, traveled up with a group from Louisville, Ken., and was staying at "Bushville," a camp set up outside the Asia Supermarket on Western Avenue. He said that police had tried to intimidate the protesters overnight.

"The police had nothing better to do," said Davis. "They made their dogs bark at us and flashed lights in our faces last night."

Police carried out a series of raids over the weekend, targeting locations where they believed groups were planning attacks on the convention. The RNC Welcoming Committee, a group describing itself as an "anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body" that planned to "crash the convention," was among the groups targeted.

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 1, 2008; 7:26 PM ET
Categories:  Conventions , Republican Party  
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Comments

"War is upon you, whether you like it or not."

Boon, you have got to be kidding. The Cheney regime chose the war in Iraq. It was a decision probably made before 9/11/01, but that fateful date gave them the chance to set the war in place. I do not argue with the idea that some times states are forced to defend their citizens with military force, but to say that this was the case in Iraq, with all we know now, is simply dishonest.

Posted by: Paul | September 2, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

My goodness! How many lives and amount of property have been destroyed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Who wants to arrest G.W.B.?

Posted by: Old Coot | September 2, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

There's no such rank as Lieutenant Corporal. You may mean Lance Corporal, a Marine enlisted rank or Lieutenant Colonel, a Marine , Army, Air Force officer rank.

Posted by: 1LT W.R. Johnson | September 2, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Peaceful protest. Doesn't that qualify as an oxymoron?

Posted by: dcp | September 2, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Get lives. I can't believe you people. Problem with the country is that everyone is too busy name-calling to see that the media is destroying America. People like Eugene Robinson and Will and all the rest of them should be shunned by media for hypocritical writings that are against everything that we as America should believe in. Did any of you see any anti-Democrat protests on CNBC last week? No of course not because they want you to see the rosey Democratic party. But what do they air all during Monday's shortened events? The anti-Republican protests.

You're all fools for falling into the media trap. Go out and do research for yourselves instead of reading this Post garbage. I'ts amazing what a little readign will do. My last Post subscription ended last year and I'll be damned if I'll ever buy another one again.

Posted by: worker | September 2, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, the Red Bushie Party is unable to have a peaceful convention, and as with 1968, we as a nation must choose the better choice for the security and safety of our nation.

Incompetence, the hallmark of Republicants, is a disease and must not be rewarded. Especially when it means ripping off the Middle Class to reward Party Elites.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | September 2, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Kind of reminds me how protesters are dealt with in Democratic countries like China, Tibet, Burma. Shoot first ask questions later, then go home and beat the wife.

Posted by: Marx | September 2, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

How much you want to bet that if you punch an anarchist in the face they will run to the cops to complain?

Posted by: Bob | September 2, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

They are anarchists - yet support Obama?
I'd say they are just another group of liberals, but a very important segment of Barack's Bizzaro World.

Posted by: Jobo | September 2, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

By the way, anti-war people:

What USA President will have the audacity of hope to magically redraw international borders, settle age old religious battles, end ethic grudges that are over five and ten centuries old and still escalate enough to threaten the economy that you live in and enjoy?

End War? War is upon you, whether you like it or not. You were born into war and you will die with war, just like everyone else on the planet.

And no sniveling little anarchist, somehow a staple at Democratic protests, is going to change that.

Posted by: Boon | September 2, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse


The Protester's Agenda:

End War... I'm sure dictators and Holy war folks in other countries will agree to that once Obama tells them to stop!

End Homelessness... Many homeless people are homeless for a reason, (insanity and drug abuse are two) and all the homes you build are not going to help.

End Poverty... How much Aid food and medicine is already rotting on the docks of war torn countries?

End Global warming... Very important to stop that. Mars is coincidentally warming too. So that planet's next.

Legalize 12 Million illegal immigrants. Um... great. what do we do with the next wave of 20 million that 'float' in a year later?

Legalize Pot... Big One! We need more help thinking up these kooky ideas.

Posted by: Boon | September 2, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Jim:

Maybe you should try reading up a bit. Your idiot anarchist group just damaged 5 police cars, threw park benches, damaged storefront windows, and injured innocent protesters. Don't blame the police for your idiot acts of violence. Just because you want to hurt people and damage property doesn't give you the right to do so. There is no place in society for you people. Either protest peacefully, or stay home and play your Xbox.

Posted by: AnarchyIsDumb | September 2, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Anarchists, by definition, are not Democrats or Republicans (or Greens, or what have you) -- although some may take part in state-oriented political activity.

Try reading up a bit:
http://www.zpub.com/notes/aan-read.html

Posted by: Jim | September 2, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

From what I can tell, the peaceful protests were marred by police. The anarchists (and so-called anarchists; really, people ought to do some research before accepting labels - whether they be self-applied or thrown around by opposing entities) and others may have been breaking some traffic laws here and there, and may have even participated in non-violent civil disobedience. But it was the police that showed up with weapons and used them first, using tactics prison guards wouldn't dare use if they actually wanted to prevent or diminish confusion.

This is after several warrantless raids on specious charges (as indicated by authorities in whose name some of the raids were claimed to have been done in).

History suggests -- and let's just even keep it to "Post 9/11" history (with accepting that 9/11 changed anything, because you can go back and find this abuse of power again and again) -- that all of the charges and tactics by the police will be dropped or condemned in court.

Every major protest where police tactics as these have been seen has resulted in the police admitting to infiltrate legal gatherings of people with a political point of view, in police being reprimanded, of cities having to pay fines and court settlements or rulings declaring the activities shameful. Obviously, trampling over the principles of freedom is budgeted into the cost of a police state and this makes no difference.

Massive violations of free speech have happened in both Denver and Minneapolis. Without the presidential candidates denouncing the tactics of the police, and with Obama voting for FISA and the like, we know there will be no change in this trend for increasingly centralized Executive Branch power. A trend with an eventual shameful conclusion that disgraces not just the forefathers of this nation, but any citizen who believes the state embodies freedom, and any authority who has sworn to serve and protect it.

But then, all that reverence for the forefathers was just myth to create and preserve power for owners, wasn't it?


Posted by: Jim | September 2, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I say we protest the protesters. While the protesters want media coverage about the police, I want media coverage about their senseless violence. A few months ago, the "anarchists" came to Georgetown and one picked up a brick and threw it at a couple walking down the street to go to dinner. The brick hit the woman, gave her a concussion, and broke her nose. The coward anarchist sprinted away. Why don't we hear more stories about these acts? Most of these anti-government anarchists are on the verge of dropping out of college, or have already done so. They're stoned out of their minds. They promote lawlessness. They denounce everything the government does, but they never put forth a true solution to the problems. I personally take joy in watching the police clear the streets of these fools. Give them all wood shampoos - and film it for my enjoyment.

Posted by: Nerds | September 2, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

What is a "Lieutenant Corporal"? The Marine Corps has a Lance Corporal rank, but nobody in the US military has a "Lieutenant Corporal" rank.

Posted by: F. R. | September 2, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Finally, in the last paragraph, we see a hint about the police break-ins that have gone on over the weekend. How about some reporting on that?

Posted by: Bartolo | September 2, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Now that you've told the story of the street protests, you should tell the story of the infiltration of protest groups that preceded the convention, the arrests of protesters nowhere near the convention, and the searches of homes of protesters, the arrest of journalists interviewing protesters, the militaristic chanting and marching of police riot squads, and the FBI's involvement in all of this.
Here are the leads on all of this, with plenty of video and other reliable sources, from Salon.com

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/09/01/protests/index.html

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/31/raids/index.html
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/30/police_raids/index.html

Posted by: Kyron Huigens | September 2, 2008 7:33 AM | Report abuse

It's always just a "small group of anarchists" causing all the trouble, isn't it? These groups are tolerated at all anti-Republican or anti-government protests. Why not surround them and prevent them from joining your march?

Posted by: J. Conrad | September 2, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

I learned quickly in the 60s that anti war protests attracted a variety of people, including people who were against war. Others would gravitate to such events, as well, looking only to do violence and destruction under the cover of large groups of enabling people. Modernly, with the presence of video cameras, you will notice these thugs wearing masks and scarfs to hide their face, much like their brave brethren in the middle east who cover their faces while they run their mouths in front of a camera. Here in America we know them all for the cowards they are.

Posted by: jggrimm | September 2, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

"Tear gas just slaps at the problem. Nerve gas solves it."

Posted by: Nick | September 2, 2008 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Preview your Comment

Read what one finds in outlets such as the Washington Post, NY Times, and the rest of the "respected, mainstream media," and one gets only the barest outline of the police state tactics that are being used to thwart dissent today.

These tactics, used by the FBI to squelch dissent during the Vietnam era under a program called "MKULTRA," are back in full force at the GOP convention right now. Not, of course, that you'd ever hear about it from The Post.

The feds generally, and the FBI specifically, take a very dim view of citizens exercising their right to lawfully disagree publicly with govt. policies.

For much better coverage of what's really going on, one has to go to Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald blog.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

Here's a snippet of Greenwald that was republished at commondreams.com. He really gives the flavor of what's going on, a flavor the "respectable press" protects citizens from tasting:

"Today's Star Tribune added that the raids were specifically "aided by informants planted in protest groups." Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force -- an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI -- was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate "vegan groups" and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.

"So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do. And as extraordinary as that conduct is, more extraordinary is the fact that they have received virtually no attention from the national media and little outcry from anyone. And it's not difficult to see why. As the recent "overhaul" of the 30-year-old FISA law illustrated -- preceded by the endless expansion of surveillance state powers, justified first by the War on Drugs and then the War on Terror -- we've essentially decided that we want our Government to spy on us without limits. There is literally no police power that the state can exercise that will cause much protest from the political and media class and, therefore, from the citizenry." http://www.commondreams.org/

Never has the fusion of corporate and state power been more dangerous to the liberties of law-abiding citizens than it is now.

How are things different in America today than in communist China when we treat our dissenters no differently than China treats theirs?

GaryA

Posted by: garyag | September 2, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Yes, these are the people Obama has inspired. And such are the actions they have been spurred onto. Change you can certainly believe in. America 2009 will be changed to France 1789.

Posted by: Leftist thugs | September 2, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

What is wrong with these liberals? Why don't they support the war and Americans killing innocent civilians. Why don't these lefty nutjobs support American soldiers getting killed for our freedom?

America is safer, and we should be glad our soldiers offer to die for our country.

Posted by: McCain/Paladin 08 | September 2, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

If these radicals would just learn to obey the laws... maybe they wouldn't get sprayed in the face with pepper spray, and arrested.

I'm all for peace, but there are peaceful ways to bring about peace, and still respect your country that you live in.

The Anarchists remind me of terrorist with their faces covered up by bandannas, while they tear things apart and disrupt the public & normal society.

This should be a time that America & our entire country should be coming together with all of the problems we face... Not a time of trying to revive all the horrors of the 1960's

=\

Posted by: J | September 2, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Be a good American and support the war on Terror! I'm a Republican and I support our troops. I support Americans getting their arms and legs blown off in Iraq defending Freedom!

America is the Best.

Posted by: citizenx | September 2, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

The police are acting like jack-booted Nazi thugs. I do not see any main stream media coverage of the Amy Goodman arrest...I saw the video of her arrest...she was doing nothing!!! A clear violation of her (and mine and yours) 1st Amendment Rights. Republicans think peaceful protest is somehow unpatriotic, right, DaTourist ??

Posted by: Brian | September 2, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

ps i wonder who they plan to vote for ?

Posted by: VJ Machiavelli | September 1, 2008 11:38 PM

My guess is that they either won't vote or would vote for a libertarian.

Posted by: MM | September 1, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The anarchists the shock troops of the terrorists they want the terrorists to win. They don't care how many women or children they kill with the bombs. They want to see America lose to them.

VJ Machiavelli
http://www.vjmachiavelli.blogspot.com
ps i wonder who they plan to vote for ?

Posted by: VJ Machiavelli | September 1, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

viego1,
Despite our system where there are two dominant parties there are many people who do not belong to either party. The trouble-making anarchists are of that persuasion. I believe the mission of those rioting was something along the lines of overthrowing the government. This is hardly something that fits into the Democratic party platform, as Democrats, if nothing else, are pro-government.

Posted by: MM | September 1, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I hardly consider the Washington Post a "conservative" beacon. The word anarchist was used by the WP, not a conserative newspaper or journal.

Also, to the people who were protesting Vice President Cheney "sending their son off to war"...I think the draft ended in the early 70's. Your son enlisted! (thank you for his service, by they way...you should be very proud...I am).

Posted by: John | September 1, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

As usual on world stage law inforcement crimminal brutality for theses so call big wigs.We need to do our home work and stop patronizing alot of our enermies that mean us know know go.

Posted by: robert | September 1, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

At this point nothing would energize the Republican faithful more than a Seattle type riot. It's up to the Left to ignore the agents the GOP has planted in their midst.

FREE AMERICA

REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRACY

Posted by: Marc Schlee | September 1, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Why hasn't it been reported (except in some blogs) that reporters from widely read news organizations were arrested? Examples: Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! and Chelsey Perkins, an intern from Utne Reader. And there is no coverage of this on cable news. This is unbelievable and intolerable in a democracy!

Posted by: Diane | September 1, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't put it past the St. Paul police to have planted some undercover agents in the crowd to cause trouble, to give the police excuse to jump in and crack heads. After all, they've been spying on anti-RNC protesters and arresting them preemptively, just like in China.

Posted by: Mitchell | September 1, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

It strikes me as suspicious that a small, violent group unconnected with the larger march made trouble. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these "anarchists" turned out to be the same GOP activists who participated in the "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Miami in December 2000. After all, they both used similar tactics.

Posted by: John Brisker | September 1, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: viejo1 | September 1, 2008 9:36 PM: You say the anarchists are not democrats? Oh, they're Republicans?

They're typical left-wing scumbags. Left-wing means liberal. Liberal means democrat.
===================================

Nice math, dude! And while we're at it let's not forget the current GOP equation:

The Sarah Palin's family are typical right wing trailer trash; Right Wing means conservative hypocrite trailer trash; Conservative hypocrites equal Repugnicans.

Very elegant!

Posted by: McSameAsItEverWas | September 1, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse


let us remember the 60s.

The anarchists were not Muslims, they weren't Hispanic or Latino.

Their names were jewish, as I recall. They bragged ultimately that they nearly brought this country to the barricades., to revolution. Read Horowitz' "Radical Son". The part about pnik babies and
cells for Stalin, etc. Get informed

let's have the names of the arrested
Anarchists. Take a good look.

Posted by: alert | September 1, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

mm

You say the anarchists are not democrats? Oh, they're Republicans?

They're typical left-wing scumbags. Left-wing means liberal. Liberal means democrat.

Posted by: viejo1 | September 1, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Anarchists!! Wow-- the Republicans are digging back a century for vocabulary=== but then again that's exactly where the conservatives want to take the rest of us.

Posted by: Mainegirl | September 1, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I was at the protest and it is refreshing to read a balanced story. The vast majority of the people were there peacefully and demonstrated within their rights. To DaTourist, no, the anarchists are not democrats. Mostly they're just thugs who want to cause trouble and to incite revolution. I hardly think that breaking windows, setting dumpsters on fire, and blocking highway ramps will spark revolution. Those activities just get their anarchist butts arrested, and that is what they want. The main body of peaceful protesters were not specifically democrats; there were many libertarians, socialists and those not affiliated with any party.

Posted by: MM | September 1, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

A few busted heads and the others will get the message.

Posted by: John | September 1, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Are they called Democrats? Didn't we see these same liberal protesters at 1968 Chicago? Nothing has changed except the names.

Posted by: DaTourist | September 1, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

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