Here's a letter that we received and wanted to share with everyone. If anyone else would like to publicize first-hand information about the police misconduct in Charles Village on Election Night, or has other Election Night experiences they'd like to share, please post your comments here or email us at email@example.com.
During the night following the election, my roommates and I walked
down to 33rd and St. Paul and started celebrating the election of
Barack Obama. We quickly gained support of local students, and our
group of seven quickly grew to over 400. What was a beautifully
patriotic evening, filled with unity and gentle celebration, quickly
turned into fear and chaos as the Baltimore Police Department randomly
(and illegally) assaulted, intimidated, and arrested many members of a
Last Spring, President Ungar invited you to speak at Goucher to a
group of Goucher students, faculty, and staff. President Ungar
personally invited me at the last moment, claiming it was essential
that I hear you speak. Your discussion inspired me to want to get more
involved with our city, and this semester several of my friends and I
moved down to Charles Village from Towson, in order to become true
On November 4, the six of us - all sophomores at Goucher, voted
for the first time. Sending in my absentee ballot to my native
California was one of the most exciting things I have ever done, and
we were all excited to partake in making history. Just a month before
hearing you speak at Goucher, I had the opportunity to shake now
President-elect Obama's hand at an election rally in Wilmington. I
took the train up to Wilmington by myself, and I instantly befriended
a group of students from the University of Delaware. The feeling of
unity was overwhelming, and I instantly knew this campaign was unlike
anything else in history.
The night of Nov. 4th was no exception. My roommates and I had to get
outside to celebrate. People joined quickly and we were suddenly
flanked by members of the community, students from several
institutions, schoolteachers, and professors - all united and chanting
"USA! USA!". The Hopkins Campus Security respected the crowd and kept
it under control, and it became a truly beautiful event. I was
surrounded by people I had never met before, of all colors: black and
white, Muslim and Jewish, old and young, from near and far all
celebrating under American flags.
You have already heard about what the police did last night. They
arrested two of my roommates and another one of my friends, for
reasons that were never disclosed. I stood and watched while my
roommate, a 19-year-old girl from New Jersey, was grabbed by the
throat by two policemen twice her size and had her arms bound so
tightly behind her back, she was screaming in agony.
I have talked with Goucher President Sanford Ungar, and he has already tried to help us get our
voice heard. The fact is that this happens every night in this city,
without a single mention in the Sun or on the local TV news. These
students and the professor that were arrested were never told their
rights and were fingerprinted, photographed, intimidated, and forced
to spend hours in cells with people charged with violent crimes.
Fortunately, my friends and the rest of these aforementioned sixteen
that were arrested are lucky enough to be backed up by institutions
like Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University.
I know this letter is far from brief, and I appreciate that you have
taken the time to read this. I was inspired by your discussion at
Goucher, and wanted to know what I could do to change something in
this city. I think Baltimore is a beautiful place buried in an
inconceivable amount of filth. Before election day I couldn't fathom
how I could help, or what I could even help with. I now know the
intricacies of how the Baltimore Police Department detains citizens
without Mirandizing them, charging them, or respecting their basic
freedoms. I feel I can speak on behalf of everyone who witnessed
Tuesday night's atrocities when I say that we want to help.
The sixteen people arrested last night were picked randomly. It could
have been anyone. I have spoken with and know personally several of
those arrested and can tell you that they were all respectable and
respectful citizens that have done so much already to make this city a
better place. Will these volunteers, public school teachers, artists,
and professors voices be drowned out?
I hope not.
Thank you again for speaking to us at Goucher. Baltimore needs you,
and is lucky to have you.
Goucher College class of 2011
Last night, I went to my daughter Chelsea’s home to watch the returns. She was having a watch party. It was the perfect venue for that night for many reasons. Chelsea’s mom, Sayida Stone, my first wife and a dear friend, is African American. Chelsea is a Black woman, a mixed race child of America. She has three children, my grand children. Their father, Ebon, a schoolteacher, martial artist and musician, is Afro-Italian-Puerto Rican. From the beginning, Chelsea was deeply moved by Obama’s candidacy. It was their time, it was their day, and it is their time now.
Chelsea’s sister, Alana, her mom’s daughter with her husband who is Jamaican, is 21 years old, a brilliant artist and a junior at MICA. I call her my daughter once removed, she calls me Saba, which is Hebrew for grandfather. Alana was there with a dozen of her classmates. Young, African American, Latino, Asian, mixed race and white who worked for this campaign, who believed in this message of hope.
Chelsea’s friends who were there ranged from 28 to their early forties, every color of the American rainbow. Her mom, her husband Jenel, and others of our generation were there, as well.
The feeling in her home was electric and explosive, but explosive with peace and hope. When Obama was announced the next President of the Untied States of America, there was a pandemonium of joy, screaming, shouting, hugging, singing and champagne corks popping.
I looked around realizing this was their day. These young people believed so deeply and were so full of what the future might bring to us all.
While watching television it was hard not to notice the contrast between the Obama supporters in Grant Park in Chicago and the McCain supporters. Obama’s in a public park with thousands of people of every generation and race in America and McCain’s in a private club for the wealthy and all, well not all, but almost all, white.
This was an election of the two Americas from which we were born and in which we still live. Our great nation has no state religion. Our state religion is our democracy, our belief in freedom and liberty. The USA was founded on liberty and slavery in the same breath. Imagine that and think about that for a moment. Liberty and slavery are the foundations of our nation. The roots of the contradiction and the hope that dwell uneasily together in our nation’s soul were alive and palpable last night in this election.
Maybe the tenor is about to change. Race and racism hurt America. It is a deep wound in the Black American spirit. It is a burden of pain in white America, as well.
The man who was voted in to become the 44th President of the United States of America may be changing the tenor and tone of our nation. In the spirit of the civil rights warriors, he was unbowed and non-violent in his stand against his tormentors in this campaign. When Barack Obama was faced with lies and low blows dealt by his opponents, the Republican Party and their independent advocates, he responded with dignity, strength and love. So many of his supporters screamed that he should fight back, blow for blow and spit in their eye. Barack Obama chose to hold his head and his sense of morality and ethics high, so he kept walking straight ahead amidst the verbal blows and lies. He set a standard for his supporters and the America he believes in. The roots of that way of responding politically come from Martin Luther King, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s that they gave birth to and that gave birth to them. It bodes well for what we may be able to do in America together.
I am not naïve about the difficulty that lies ahead of us. Barack Obama is not the savior; he is the embodiment of hope for many Americans. The struggle is now on to define our future. We can now fight for something rather than against it. We will have a seat at the table for the debate on our nation’s future. We have serious work ahead of us.
Good gumbo, too, last night... A gumbo of America in the room, a gumbo of America who voted Obama, and a great gumbo in the pot.
Here are some thoughts written late last night by CEM intern and UMBC student Stavros Halkias. We'd like to encourage everyone to send in their post-election thoughts. Post comments here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on the air today between 5-6pm at 410-319-8888.
Voting for the first time in my life was legitimately exciting. From the moment I entered my polling place, which happened to be my elementary school, I was overcome with emotion. In the building where I first learned what the office of the president was, I would have a hand in choosing the next person to occupy that office. Even better, I was supporting a candidate I actually believed in and held incredible hopes for. My nerves and elation were held together by an overarching sense of purpose. I was part of a societal change, with my ballot serving as tangible proof. Why can’t I feel like this everyday? Why can’t every day be Election Day?
Despite these feelings, as I walked out of that polling station I couldn’t help but wonder “What’s next?” Barack Obama had the kind of campaign and following that was unprecedented in this nation’s history. His campaign deposed Democratic royalty in the primaries, broke all kinds of fundraising records, and truly inspired vast numbers of people for the first time in decades. The sobering realization I came to was that campaigns and administrations are two very different things. Historically, the energy campaigns create largely dies after the immediate goal of election is met. We can’t allow that to happen this time. All the people who voted for Barack Obama on Tuesday, all the people that were part of the historic movement for change in our country, must challenge themselves further. To borrow a few words from the President elect’s victory speech, “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.”
So, don’t let things go back to the way they were before Barack came along. Don't rely solely on his administration to make change. Let Barack Obama's election be the beginning--not the end--of your efforts. Become more civically involved. Start helping your community in any way you can. Identify problems and work towards them yourself. Volunteer. Tutor at-risk youth. Protest injustice. Support more change-minded politicians. Study social change movements. Do something! Take the energy you put into the campaign and move it to your community, don’t let it go to waste. Don’t just get excited and wait for change-- make change and make everyday Election Day.
Sonia Silbert, Co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, wrote last week with updates on the mass arrests and detentions by police of activists during the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities. Here are some more reports from her from later in the week. You can also listen to her interview with us during the RNC on The Marc Steiner Show - click here.
Here's a guest post by Nick Morgan, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW.) He was a guest on The Marc Steiner Show while in Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention. Click here to listen to that show.
As a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), my experience in the Twin Cities was a unique one. With our organization on the list of over 200 groups on a list studied by Minnesota National Guard and various police units, it was still no secret that our message was completely non-violent and direct. Our mission was to march in formation and in uniform to deliver a message to Senator McCain informing him of the issues veterans are facing today. As a fellow veteran, we were presumptuous to assume that the presidential candidate would listen to our simple message.
With a permit for our action on the opening day of the scaled-back RNC, no member of IVAW was arrested during our action (or the rest of the convention). We shared a certain level of lateral respect with the law enforcement at the RNC because we have all been placed in similar predicaments in the name of serving our country and democracy. Not to mention the fact that many of them were veterans as well and could relate to our logical viewpoints. The clear difference here is that these men and women are dealing with American citizens on American soil, hired as mercenaries for the RNC to the tune of a 50 million dollar liability insurance policy for their protection.
I have to say that I haven't been in an environment so unsafe for average citizens since I left Baghdad in 2005. One notable difference is that the police in Minneapolis have better body armor and protection than American soldiers and Marines do in Iraq. It is a sad day for the United States when a kid on a bicycle is pepper sprayed in the face by a cop just for riding too close when there where no violent protests taking place. What does it say about this country when the police are arresting people with press credentials hanging from their necks just for recording and reporting the interactions between police and American civilians.
I hung out for a period of time with some independent media personnel who understandably added an additional level of anxiety to the air. Pardon my vagueness as I don't want to divulge too much information about individuals. Many of them were just coming back from jail and were on high alert for near by police activity. At one point, myself and a few of my fellow IVAW members were beginning to loose the battle to subdue our PTSD. We decided it was best that we went on a drive outside of the city to get some fresh air and escape all the violence multiplied by paranoia.
Please take some time to consider the implications of the absolute police state that was enforced in the Twin Cities. When the people making the decisions in this country don't want to hear the voices of the people they are making the decisions for, I am saddened. When the people's voices are silenced with clubs, tear gas, rubber bullets, and zip ties, I am appalled. This concludes my humble testimony of how I experience the RNC.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Iraq Veterans Against the War
OIF II, 458th En. Bn., Ist Cavalry Division
John McCain gave a powerful acceptance speech tonight, devoid of artificial drama and devoid of gimmicks. More on that later.
Leading up to his speech was a moving tribute by his wife Cindy, a tribute which left no one in doubt about the genuineness of their union and both of their commitments to public service.
Preceding that address was a specific appeal which this critic found tremendously convincing.
Click READ MORE below!
Let's begin with the topic of CHANGE.
Click READ MORE below!
It’s the economy stupid! The famous words from Democratic political strategist James Carville flashed in my mind while Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her speech. The McCain ticket is gambling big time that the trifecta: toughness, Iraq, and military service will pre-occupy voters mind. There’s something Reaganesque about the McCain approach too – it’s tried, true, and tired.
Click READ MORE below!
Besides the usual tax and big government and vitriolic attacks against their opponents, several themes arose last night that may be the battlegrounds of the next two months.
Remember in 1992 when Clinton campaign chiefs Paul Begala and James Carville coined the phrase "It’s the economy, stupid?" It worked for Clinton. They tapped into the American angst of that moment.
Click READ MORE below!
This is The GoodDoctor reporting once more....and I have shifted my attention that of the Republicans this week. As we know, their convention got off to a slow start due to Hurricane Gustav. (It seems that God answered their prayers to rain out Obama's speech one week too late.) But, now it seems they are "ready to go on the attack!"
Click READ MORE below!
All I can say is “wow.” And when John McCain ascended the stage after Governor Palin’s speech, he said “wow” too.
What an amazingly auspicious speech for an aspiring Vice President candidate to give. In the Geraldine Ferraro era, all of the rhetoric of a major female candidate had a defensive cast. This speech was a confident, aggressive speech by a female candidate for Vice President who knows what she thinks and knows from what values her assertions come.
Click READ MORE below!
Believing, as Barack Obama, that “We are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people and One Nation,” has never been more challenging than it was last night. As I listened to Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I became increasingly despairing of the power, the fear, the hate mongering and the delusional self-congratulatory platitudes that peppered her speech and gave comfort to a culturally and economically insecure public. Her words were cast out to embolden the xenophobia of a frightened country, words that were so irresponsible given the external and internal challenges we face. Clearly, the Republican Party has come out of the closet about their plan to exploit and deepen our traditional differences and create and shine light on ones lying beneath the surface.
Click READ MORE below
Palin, Palin, Palin. The mainstream media is obsessed and the feminist blogosphere has been very interested in the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. On many feminist blogs you'll see questions like "Is Sarah Palin a feminist?" or "Can someone who was given a free ride break a glass ceiling?" and an old favorite "Can someone who doesn't support reproductive choice be a feminist?" The Palin pick may cause a feminist identity crisis just as the Obama-Clinton primary season did.
Click READ MORE below!
Sonia Silbert is co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center. She's at the RNC, organizing and demonstrating for peace. Here are her first-hand accounts of the week so far.
8/30/08 - Cops Raid RNC Protests (already)
I've never had a gun pulled on me, and I wasn't expecting that to happen last night, days ahead of the planned protests against the RNC in Minnesota. But last night the St Paul police department raided the convergence space, guns drawn, bashed down doors and detained everyone in there for hours.
I was at the convergence space with probably about 40 other people. I was sitting in the corner working on a training I'm supposed to put on today when cops burst in, guns pointing to the ground, and demanded everyone lie down on the ground. We demanded to see a warrent and speak to a lawyer - neither of which happened the whole time we were held. We were all hand-cuffed and searched. The cops went upstairs and broke down some locked doors and detained anyone they found up there as well.
The spirit downstairs was good - everyone was scared but also happy that we were all together and tried quickly to work out some solidarity techniques. They were basically taking all our info, searching our bags and releasing us one by one. They claimed they were searching for "things that would be used" at the RNC, but I never figured out what they were actually looking for. Later, someone outside was shown the search warrent, though no one was given a copy as they are legally required to do, and apparently they were looking for things that could be made into weapons - such as jars for molotov cocktails.
We were in a big group downstairs and were worried about people being alone upstairs - we also didn't like people being released one-by-one without any way to check on the folks being left behind. Some folks agreed not to give their names and info until we were assured about the people upstairs and were released as a group so that anyone they might target wasn't left alone in there.
I was finally released after about 3 hours of being handcuffed. They searched my belongings and took my photo, writing down info about my tatoo. I asked the last cop who was searching my bag if we were going to be allowed back into the building, and he said no that they were closing the building. He claimed there was a fire code violation and a fire door was blocked so it would be closed down. Correct me if I'm wrong, but usually if there's a fire code violation the fire department issues a ticket - the cops don't show up with guns drawn and detain everyone in the building for hours.
When I was released there were over 100 people waiting outside cheering, offering hugs and water, plus legal representatives to take statements and press to give interviews to. A great way to be welcomed!
This morning (Sat), three activist houses were raided - 2 houses of organizers of the RNC Welcoming Committee, 1 house of Food Not Bombs folk. We have four confirmed arrests and believe more will follow. The identities of the four arrestees are known, and we understand that they are being charged with conspiracy to riot, and other conspiracy charges.
We had two days of trainings and meetings planned for today and tomorrow in that space and we are scrambling to find community space to continue with these important events. The cops did this very strategically to disrupt the weekend that was going to build and strengthen the actions this week as well as the movement as a whole.
Dont' worry though - we won't let that happen. We've found parks to do our trainings and meetings in - there's a press conference going on right now and then a mass meeting in an hour, with trainings planned after that. Check www.washingtonpeacecenter.net for more details as the days go by.
8/31/08 - Update on RNC protests:
We woke up Sat morning to the news that three houses had been raided early in the morning. Two were houses of lead local organizers and one was a house of Food Not Bombs folks - they were all awaken to cops raiding their houses with guns drawn and were all detained while the cops went through the houses. Everyone in the houses was released except for 3 or 4 main local organizers - they were arrested and are being held without bail for "conspiracy to riot", "conspiracy to commit property destruction" and (my favorite) "conspiracy to plan civil disobedience".
Friday night at the convergence space there were two activist parents with their 5 year-old son with them during the raid. He was understandably frightened out of his wits at the sight of all these cops with guns handcuffing his dad and all their friends. Unfortunately, he and his parents were staying at one of the houses that was raided Sat morning, so woke up to the sight, once again, of cops, guns, and parents being handcuffed.
Throughout the day, houses of local organizers continued to be raided by the cops - six houses in all. The cops in the raids were all accompanied by building inspectors who tried to find code violations that would shut down the homes. They got as far as to start boarding up one privately-owned home that they claimed had code violations. Apparently the only person who could talk to them about this plan was the house owner - unfortunately, she was in jail, being held without bail. Activists mobilized quickly to respond to these raids and get neighbors around to witness the cops raid and search. The house that was being boarded up got unboarded and reopened due to community pressure as well as many calls to the City Council members by local allies.
Also throughout the day, individual activists were targeted on the street. 2 more local lead organizers with the RNC Welcoming Committee were snatched walking down the street, arrested and are being held without bail through Tuesday or Wednesday. 6 local organizers are being held in all - 5 were members of the Welcoming Committee and were leads of the actions being planned. Stories continued to flood in of people being pulled over in bikes and cars, being searched, detained and released.
I was helping make props Sat afternoon when my friend Alexis called me from the street - she said she had just turned the corner and saw a bunch of cops who had pulled over a white van and had guns drawn and were making activists in the car walk backwards away from the guns. I gave her the legal hotline number and Sam and I ran down the street to where she was. There were 4 or 5 cop cars with lights flashing surrounding 5 activists kneeling on the sidewalk handcuffed. We got all their names (including an old ally from New Orleans who I haven't seen in years - funny where you run into people) and called them into the legal hotline and gave them some water and whatever support we could. They said they had been driving and were being followed by an unmarked truck for about 30 min until they were finally surrounded and pulled over at gun point. One of them was separated from the rest and they hadn't seen him since - it turned out he was in a car being questioned by the cops. Their car was searched and all of them were searched and IDed and released after about 30-45 minutes. There was no explanation given - it's just pure fear tactics. Everyone is feeling insecure traveling around and making sure we all stay in groups and be smart - especially locals who were lead organizers in this.
The amazing thing is that the infrastructure that the Welcoming Committee and others have put so long into organizing is functioning amazingly well, despite the leads being in jail. Within 10 minutes of our calling in the above incident there were legal observers on the ground, taking pictures and statements. After lots of pressure on the City Council and negotiations, the convergence center was reopened yesterday afternoon and meals continue to be served there. There are still computers and free wireless and they have found more programs and informational handouts for all.
The legal collective has been amazing and very responsive, the communication system is up and running - we all receive text messages of any updates - and the medics are everywhere. At the spokescouncil last night I was amazed at all the affinity groups who stood up with plans prepared, knowing where they were doing actions and with who. Perhaps the saddest thing about all the lead organizers being in jail is not that we need them right now to ensure the success of their actions - their hard work has prepped us for that - but they can't see that all their incredible efforts are paying off.
On a slightly different note, I caught the end of the Vets for Peace/Iraq Vets Against the War banquet last night during their national conferences, and they are planning great things over the next few days and year. People should check out IVAW's great action at the DNC last week, and stay tuned for actions this week.
The latest update is that Bush and Cheney are not coming to the conventions tomorrow - they want to prep for a photo-op in a disaster zone or McCain doesn't want them around or they're afraid of the protests - and we are all thinking of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as Gustav approaches. It's hard to be prepped for one emergency situation while thinking that a major disaster might be about to hit. We'll see what happens over the next day and where our energies are directed. For now, I'm glad that I'm safe and I'm thinking of my friends at the other end of the Mississippi from us and wishing them safety and health as well.
For my story from Friday night's raid at the convergence center, go to www.washingtonpeacecenter.net.
9/3/08: Report from Monday's actions at the RNC
The number of riot cops on the streets of St Paul on Monday was overwhelming. In the quiet neighborhood where I'm staying with a friend, 3 miles from downtown, there were lines of cops in full riot gear - helmets, pads, pepper spray, batons, etc - lined up because the student contingent was marching from nearby Macalaster College. Those students are pretty scary I guess.
I started the morning supporting Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) as they marched to the Excel Center to demand a meeting with McCain's staff over his awful record supporting veterans issues, health care in particular. About 70 vets marched in uniform and full formation - one representative was escorted inside and was denied a meeting by the McCain staff. Despite being a vet and claiming to "support the troops", McCain has an awful record on vets issues - he votes with the vets on veterans issues only 20% of the time. Obama votes with them 80% of the time - way better but still pretty lousy given how much they all claim to be friends of the veterans.
It was a pretty intense action to watch, and even more so to be a part of it seems. A lot of the vets had emotional reactions to being back in uniform and marching again - some of them said it brought out an anger and arrogance they've tried to expunge from themselves when they returned from Iraq. Others were even more upset later on seeing how the cops treated protesters - one said that he had enough experience taking away people's rights and hated seeing others doing what he had done and now rejected.
ON THE STREET:
Afterwards I formed an affinity group with about 10 people who wanted to provide support for blockades and other direct actions but wanted to avoid risking arrest. We headed into the streets ahead of the large, permitted march that was still rallying behind us. Within three blocks we came across dozens of riot police blocking streets and donning gas masks - one person had been pepper sprayed and was sitting in serious pain being treated by friends. There were no protesters in sight, only a few dozen people (some with children) sitting on grassy lawn watching the cops march back and forth. As we kept walking, the city seemed deserted - the only people out were small bands of protesters and large groups of riot cops dressed all in black and blue groups of bicycle cops. We left the spot where the riot police were and headed to a report of a blockade and arrests a little ways away - as we walked we saw "Funk the War" the protest dance party organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) come towards the cops and realized that that's who they had been waiting for. This was about 15 minutes after leaving the permitted space and we got the text message that the SDSers had been tear-gassed and pepper sprayed within minutes.
Soon we heard reports that the National Guard was on the street and we saw them soon after - camouflage tanks were rolling down the streets and National Guardsmen (and ladies) were in full camo, with helmets and rubber bullet rifles.
We spent the next few hours going from blockade to blockade, watching the cops search, detain and arrest people. We got to one of the main entrances for delegates right when many were walking and busing in. We had heard there had been a blockade there and would be one again. We met up with the Pagan Cluster, a group of about 20, and what remained of Funk the War, which was two big sound systems on wheels and perhaps 15 dancing folks. All of them walked right into the street in front of the delegate entrance and started dancing and spinning balls of yarn around so that delegates had to maneuver over and under a maze of yarn in order to reach the entrance. The delegates were mostly on foot and weaved through us in order to get in, passing right next to us in an odd opportunity for us to ask them to support our troops and let them come home.
Soon the cops brought out horses and stood around looking tough. Once they realized that the delegates were actually having to interact with the crazy protesters, they shepeared them all together and tried to keep them separate from us, but the dance party would just move to be in front of them. Then, in the weirdest decision, the cops on horses created a V and walked straight through the dance party, pushing all the protesters with the horses and keeping the delegates in the middle of the V up against the horses' butts. The protesters were all pushed over and scared by the horses, but the delegates were in the middle of this big mess, squeezed by the horses, and looked frightened out of their wits - some of them looked like they were in High School.
The police and horses got more and more confrontational, pushing people around as the dance party continued and the pagans started doing a spiral dance in the middle of the street. We got reports that they were diverting all delegate buses to another entrance on the far side of the Excel Center, and that there were other actions in need of support, so my group headed off.
Throughout the day we heard reports and met people (including journalists) who had been pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed and saw the cops use rubber bullets and concussion grenades.
We came across a mass arrest around 4 pm - arrests were happening on all three street corners. My buddy team stayed with 2 people face down in a parking lot with National Guardsmen standing over them with rubber bullet rifles. I went over and asked if they were okay and if anyone had called Legal yet - they were grinned at me and said they were Legal. They were members of the legal collective and I don't know why they were arrested - they looked a little too scruffy. When I called in their arrests, I asked the Legal line if anyone had called in the mass arrests across the street yet - There probably 50 riot cops and 30 or so arrestees, as well as 20 or so spectators being held back by the line of cops. The arrestees were handcuffed and sitting in a line in the sun (it's about 90 degrees) and I can see one guy's head is bleeding, even from 20 yards away where we're held. The arrestees start chanting "We need medics! We need medics!" but no medics are allowed in. Within a half hour, I see one of the medics that had asked to provide medical care arrested and handcuffed with the rest of the protesters.
Next thing, we realize that two members of our "non-arrestable" affinity group are being held with the other arrestees as well. Kari had been taking pictures all day and her buddy Jonathan stuck with her and were her eyes while she was in her camera mode. They had gotten swept up in that mass arrest and was taken away. We later found out that they were being charged with felonies - today is Wednesday and they still have not been released. Kari got one quick phone call to her mother who was freaking out. We're not in touch with her mom and we're hoping they'll be arraigned and released today. The felony charges are pretty wild though - they were with the 10 of us all day and hadn't been near any of the actions, let alone any violence.
My buddy pair stuck together and walked up to find the rest of our group - as we did, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! ran past us - in the 5 minutes it took for us to walk around the block to where Jonathan and Kari were handcuffed, Amy was arrested along with two other producers of DN. The two producers were also charged with felonies. I know Amy is accredited and award-winning and everything, and her arrest was utterly illegal and unacceptable, but Jonathan and Kari are unaccredited journalists in their own right and their arrest while taking photos is just as illegal and unacceptable. Amy and her producers were released later that evening, as well they should've been, but our friends are still in jail.
After Jonathan and Kari's arrest, another buddy pair, David and Tobin, went up to a parking garage across the street to get a better view and see if we knew any other arrestees and could call their names into Legal. They were followed in by a gang of bicycle cops, detained and searched. We went to find them and were threatened with arrest by the cops also and crossed the street. David has short hair, tucked in shirt, etc, and they released him after searching him and his bags. Tobin is 17 years old, has long hair and baggy pants, and the cops claimed they recognized him from actions earlier in the day. Again, Tobin had been running with us all day long and we'd been doing our best to avoid any action that was vaguely arrestable. The cops cuffed Tobin and walked him across the street with the rest of the mass arrest and took him away as well. We didn't see him again. He's a juvenile, no record and did nothing wrong except fit a profile. It's now Wednesday and he too is still not out of jail - two nights spent there. His freaked-out dad took a plane here at 6 am the next morning and is anxiously stalking juvenile jail.
We waited a few hours to watch our friends be booked, photographed and taken away. While handcuffed, Kari managed to get the memory card out of her camera and hide it in a crack in the cement where she was staying. Jonathan then called over to us, in super-secret code language - that his "red car" had a "flat in the back right tire". We waited till all the cops had left, went searching and found the card! Now all we need is Kari and her camera to get released and we'll get to see documentation of hours of police harassment and illegal activities.
About 280 people were arrested that day and 130 of them were charged with felonies. This is an absurdly high number of felonies - usually their will only be 10 or so felonies in a group that size. If people like Jonathan, Kari and the producers of Democracy Now are being charged with felonies, it's not wonder the number is that high. I think they are charging us with felonies to justify the excessive amount of riot cops, peppers-spraying and tear-gassing that was going on. It might also be a tactic to get arrestees to plea bargain, and also to make it scarier to risk arrest in the future.
I have to run to a "peace conference" now (remember? we're here to work for peace!) but will write an update on jail solidarity soon. Suffice to say, most of the arrestees have not been charged or released and many have been denied medical attention. There are reports of one person who wasn't given water to wipe the pepper spray off here body and now has 1st degree burns and is still not getting medical attention. The men are apparently on hunger strike for medical care as well as to demand that they are either charged or released. Police harrassment, tear gassing and arrests have continued throughout yesterday (Tuesday). I will give more details and and update soon. Check back to www.washingtonpeacecenter.net.
HOW TO HELP:
If you want to help, Coldsnap Legal Collective is asking for people to call the jail and the mayor and demand that all arrestees receive proper treatment and access to medical services. Additionally, we demand that all protesters are immediately released and that all charges are dropped.
Ramsey County Jail -- 651.266.9350
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman -- 651.266.8510
Ramsey County Sheriff's office -- 651.487.5149
Sep. 03, 2008 | The Republicans are meeting down the hill from my house, helicopters are pounding the air, and there are more suits on the streets and big black SUVs and a brownish cloud venting from the hockey arena where the convention is assembled. A large moment for little old St. Paul, which is more accustomed to visitations by conventions of morticians and foundation garment salesmen and the Sons of the Desert, and so we are thrilled. It makes no difference that the city is Democratic. What matters is that, for a few days, TV will show a few pictures of the big bend in the Mississippi, the limestone bluffs, the capitol and cathedral, and a tree-shaded avenue or two, and some of the world will know that we exist.
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St. Paul, Minn. — The biggest “prize” so far in the quest to destroy Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy is the “news” that her unmarried daughter is pregnant. I have little to say about that because I don’t think the press should be saying much more about it.
But what is remarkable is how little that or other revelations matter to the GOP rank and file. Simply put: They love Sarah.
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We're bringing you another blog post from Towson University Rhetoric professor Richard Vatz, who is currently blogging over at the site RedMaryland.blogspot.com. Go check it out--lot's of interesting commentary from Maryland conservatives.
In this post, Vatz blogs about the events at last evening's Republican National Convention.
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My very favorite blog, Jezebel.com, is a group blog with many contributors. Two of the writers disagree about whether or not the pregnancy of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter Bristol is fair game for discussion.
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Richard Vatz, a professor of Rhetoric at Towson University who often appears on the Marc Steiner Show, is blogging during the Republican National Convention for Red Maryland, a blog of great writing from conservative thinkers in our state. His last blog post for them, titled
Political Instincts, Senator John McCain, and the Republican National Convention, is posted below. Please visit Red Maryland for some great writing on the Republican Convention, all this week!
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The announcement of Governor Sarah Palin as vice-presidential nominee to the GOP ticket took the political world by surprise. And not because she is a woman. Although, the chances were probably slim that McCain would actually pick a woman. It’s the type of woman selected that has left the average Joe and Jane with much to say.
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The speeches of Day Three's DNC were good. Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden, and John Kerry did well at setting the stage for Barack Obama. But, it's time for some "fighting words." As a registered Independent, who has consistently voted Democrat in presidential elections (voted for Ralph Nader in '04), I grow weary of Democratic candidates taking the high road...especially when more aggressive speech is appropriate.
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People like Hillary Clinton!
This is obvious based on crowd reaction during her speech last night, and the reaction of the punditry as well. I both enjoyed and appreciated the fact that it was a TACTICALLY sound speech. She illustrated a sincere disengagement from the politics of the McCain campaign; she was clear about her unwillingness to be used as a pawn by the McCain campaign to draw votes away from Senator Obama. Her acknowledgment of the hard work of her campaigners, her acknowledgment of Susan B. Anthony (and the Seneca Falls Convention), and her reference to Harriet Tubman, signaled a Senator who understood her contribution to American History. ...and at the same time, she expressed her unwavering support for Senator Barack Obama. This was the magic of Hillary Clinton's address!
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The Democratic National Convention is steamrolling the competition with women at the vanguard.
I believe Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have provided a sturdy foundation for men to take it to the next level. On Monday night, Michelle discussed her roots and upbringing reminding and informing everyone that she’s American as apple pie. Women were allowed to see the construction of her pie’s latticework—motherhood, sisterhood, and marriage. These attributes that make her who she is reminded women that you can be all things and be proud to be all things. The affirmation of womanhood was a theme that ran through Michelle’s speech as well as Hillary’s.
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What is Unity? It seems that the theme within the convention is “from many one.” And yet do some in both the leadership and the rank and file of the Democratic Party find an uneasiness seeking to place us behind a candidate that embraces the diversity of opinion and strategies that is characteristic of a progressive and dynamic constituency? Do we deep down in our hearts believe the pundits and naysayers that see this cacophony of voices as a failure to stay on message and that we are fool hearty to have the audacity to speak of unity at the foot of the Tower of Babel?
Denver must come to symbolize the big tent and yes, we must learn to fight together toward many goals. Does the Democratic Party contradict itself to claim America to be “One Nation.” I think the answer is “Yes” and it should be as Walt Whitman put, “Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
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