At last week’s Democratic convention there was a little trouble noted at the site among protesters. Seems some got a little too physical and were summarily subdued and cordoned off by a questionably large force of cops in urban riot gear. (See photo left.)
We have the right to peaceably assemble and protest, and people were allowed to at the DNC–within a certain amount of guarded control. And when people go from peaceful to rushing riot cops, you pretty much deserve a baton to the side of the head (once, though–not a total beat down).
But then comes the Republican national convention, and something different takes place: various protest groups which are being watched and in some cases infiltrated, over the last week have been raided in warrantless police break-ins and seizures of property in what is being described a “preemptive strikes” against groups they believe are planning to incite riot. We’re not talking about the overtly criminal behavior of a small group of vandals who have indeed been breaking the law by committing damage to private and public property, but rather liberal activist groups and even liberal press in a blatant attempt to stifle protest.
One of these dangerous and vile commies that were accosted and had property siezed was a sustainable living education group’s traveling bus:
At approximately 6:25 pm on August 30, 2008 Minneapolis Police, Minnesota State Troopers, Ramsey County Sheriffs, Saint Paul Police, and University of Minnesota Police pulled over the Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus (Permibus) by exit 237 on Interstate 94. Initially the police told the people on the bus to exit. When the people on the bus asked if they were being detained they were told that they were but police wereunable to provide justification. When asked why they pulled the bus over they refused to answer. After repeated requests to explain why the bus had been stopped Officer Honican of the Minneapolis Police explained that this was just a routine traffic stop though he did not explain the reason for the traffic stop. The police then told Stan Wilson, the driver and registered owner of the Permibus, that they were going to impound the bus in case they wanted to execute a search warrant later. After more than an hour of being questioned by Stan and Delyla Wilson as to the legalities of their detainment and the impoundment of the Permibus, the police then informed Stan that the bus, which is legally registered as a passenger vehicle in the state of Montana, was being impounded for a commercial vehicle inspection. Shortly afterward Sergeant Paul Davis, a commercial vehicle inspector arrived on scene. Despite the polices insistence that the reason for impoundment was for a commercial vehicle inspection the Permibus crew were not allowed to remove anything from the bus including computers, toiletries, and 17-year-old Megan Wilson’s shoes. The police finally allowed the animals to be removed from the Permibus before it was towed, leaving the Permibus family standing beside their chickens and dogs, homeless on the highway. . . .
After the incident Stan Wilson said, “If the combined law enforcement of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Ramsey County, and the State of Minnesota can pull over and impound a vehicle and home used to teach organic gardening and sustainability, one has to wonder what it is our government really fears. After all, we seek to teach people that the real meaning of homeland security is local food, fuel and energy production. For that we have had our lives stolen by government men with guns.”
Damn hippies! I bet they were just waiting for the moment to undermine American values! Another warrantless raid was on a duplex housing journalists from the site LegalWatch, who routinely report on the violations on civil liberties the government commits:
“About an hour and a half ago 20 to 30 heavily armed police officers surrounded the house,” Whelan said. “One of my roommates said ‘I want to see a warrant’ and she was immediately detained.”
Another group, I-Witness (which fights for protester rights and was able to get charges against 2004 RNC protestors dropped), was raided and people were handcuffed and searched before being let go in a clear show of police intimidation.
These are just a few of the confirmed stories of preemptive strikes against protestors before the GOP convention. And apparently it’s an ongoing issue as recent reports of journalists (who at one time were given wide berths by the police so long as they weren’t in or causing imminent threat of harm) being harassed and apprehended by police for no other reason than being around protestors: Radio news host among protesters arrested at RNC for “conspiracy to riot”, National Guard headed in?
Amy Goodman, host of the independent news program “Democracy Now!,” was among hundreds who were arrested in St. Paul Minnesota today. Also detained were Goodman’s producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. The three were covering the protests at the Republican National Convention, but the Minneapolis Police Department charged them with conspiracy to riot.
No one in the mainstream corporate media is covering any of this–the closest large media outlet is Salon magazine:
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.
Why is there no outcry? Greewald suggests:
[T]here is a widespread sense that the targets of these raids deserve what they get, even if nothing they’ve done is remotely illegal. We love to proclaim how much we cherish our “freedoms” in the abstract, but we despise those who actually exercise them. The Constitution, right in the very First Amendment, protects free speech and free assembly precisely because those liberties are central to a healthy republic — but we’ve decided that anyone who would actually express truly dissident views or do anything other than sit meekly and quietly in their homes are dirty trouble-makers up to no good, and it’s therefore probably for the best if our Government keeps them in check, spies on them, even gets a little rough with them.
You know, just stop reading my blog post and just read his article. He deals with this issue coherently and completely, discussing the ramifications of federal involvement in silencing dissent from the people and what it means to live in a society where people just sit down, shut up, and do what they’re told. But then, that’s why Glenn is a paid journalist and I’m just a blogger. 🙂
But I’ll babble a bit more for you masochists. The fundamental problem is the people have allowed themselves to become subjects of rulership. It was written somewhere, I don’t recall where, maybe some Post-It note or something, that government–particularly the United States’ government–was to be by the people and for the people. That basically, WE THE PEOPLE ARE the government. The people we send to Washington are not our rulers! They are not our “leaders“! They are representatives of us, the many. We have allowed the government to control us like any medieval kingdom or tinpot dictatorship or soviet fascism. We sit idly by while right after right, freedom after freedom, is taken away from us in the name of our security and safety.
We’ve done this to ourselves through our complacency and credulity. We’ve turned into a nation in which people are harrased and accosted for not participating in the tribal groupthink of “God Bless America” at a ball game. In which dissent and speaking out against the actions of the government that is supposed to be by you and for you, is considered unpatriotic and you’re given the option to “love it or leave it” if your opinions differ from the jingoist status quo–when the very act of dissent and questioning the government was considered by Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Paine, to be ideals of patriotism and an informed, involved citizenry! We can blame the politicians who act like rulers, like we’re their subjects, but it’s ultimately 100, 150 years social, political, civic layziness on the part of the People who are to blame.
In politics, we as a nation do what we’re told by those we anoint as more capable than us to take care of us; in religion, we as a nation do what we’re told by those we assume have direct lines to the god we believe will take care of us; in our daily lives, we as a nation have faith in the corporations and their marketing corporations to have our best interests at heart and will take care of our needs and wants; as parents, we as a nation shuffle responsibility for raising our kids unto the schools and television. We are a nation of unthinking, unreasoning, uncritical, non-thinkers who thrive on rumor and urban legend, on sensationalism and scandalous entertainment, abdicating personal responsibility for any and everything that we think will take care of us.
Goodness knows I don’t want anything terrible to happen to America, to people. The world can use a whole lot less suffering in it–but I’m afraid we’re the sleepy frog in the pot that’s about to boil us to death. I’m afraid it’s only going to be something horrible and massive to shock us out of complacency and make us realize for our own sake we HAVE to get back to a government that IS us! It’s not an issue of big government or small government, lots of taxes or no taxes, welfare or privatization–those are abstractions in the face of the fact that we no longer have a representational democracy. We no longer have a system of government by and for the people. We have a government by the capitalists and for the corporations. And we’re going to continue to complacently play Playstations and write blogs and attend feel-good churches of prosperity and be told how we can “live better, pay less” for the same products in different packaging, and we’ll continue to complain and gripe and moan about this or that. Meanwhile the state continues its unstoppable march toward complete control and power over the individual. Forcing us to be good, unquestioning, submissive consumers who don’t make waves or question that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
What sucks is I like my Playstation and blog writing….