By Matthew Rothschild | Infiltrations, false arrest, preventive detention, suppression of dissident media–these are the hallmarks of authoritarian rule. Right here in America.
The repression going on up in St. Paul is outrageous.
Police raided a half dozen people’s homes over the weekend and detained people before they’d even done anything.
“Conducting mass arrests and raiding meeting places of innocent Americans exercising their constitutional right to express political dissent are antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy,” says Anthony Romero, head of the ACLU.
Mike Whelan had invited independent observers from the group LegalWatch to stay in his duplex, as Lindsay Beyerstein reported for firedoglake.com.
At about 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, police surrounded his house with automatic weapons drawn. “One of my roommates said, ‘I want to see a warrant,’ and she was immediately detained,” Whelan told Beyerstein. He said the officers were wearing black uniforms and driving nondescript vans.
“You figure this would be going on in South Africa, or Russia, not in Saint Paul,” he said.
Police also swarmed a bus carrying members of the group Earth Justice.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorism Task Force actively recruited area residents to infiltrate local protest groups.
One of the groups affected by the raids was Food Not Bombs, and you can’t find a more nonviolent bunch than that.
Bruce Nestor of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild saw some of the police actions.
“I was personally present and saw officers with riot gear and assault rifles, pump action shotguns,” he told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.
“The neighbor of one of the houses had a gun pointed in her face when she walked out on her back porch to see what was going on. There were children in all of these houses, and children were held at gunpoint.”
Later, of course, the police arrested two producers from Democracy Now and then arrested Goodman, who was trying to ask police about what happened to her employees.
Her producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, are charged with “suspicion of felony riot.”
Goodman, who was acting in her capacity as a journalist, as were her producers, has been charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer.
Glenn Greenwald of salon.com has been doing an excellent job covering these civil liberties infringement. He notes that the FBI has been involved with local law enforcement. He even provides a photo (see update, deep into his piece).
Infiltrations, false arrest, preventive detention, suppression of dissident media–these are the hallmarks of authoritarian rule.
Right here in America.