Monday, March 30, 2009

RNC8 supporters face continued state harassment

Editor's note: This is an update from our allies at CUAPB who have been instrumental in representing and raising awareness around the assault on our civil liberties and human rights in reference to the RNC/martial law exercise during Labor Day weekend. Protestors and community organizers are being harassed and targeted for intimidation by the Twin Cities 'law enforcement' community.

Groups Vow to Continue Defending the RNC 8 Despite Intimidation Attempts

Contact: Celia Kutz (Friends of the RNC 8),, 612.886.4565
Jude Ortiz (Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure),, 612.655.6904

Police conduct during last Saturday's community event in support of the
RNC 8­ - a group of protest organizers each facing four conspiracy and
terrorism charges - ­provided a startling glimpse into coordinated
multi-agency efforts to harass, intimidate and spy on community members
engaged in legal, First Amendment-protected activities. Just like the
charges against the RNC 8, the operation was a waste of scarce resources
in tough economic times.

At least 15 cities across the nation held events for the March 28, 2009
National Day of Solidarity with the RNC 8. In the Twin Cities, the Tour de
Fletcher bicycle ride visited the sites of last August's pre-emptive
police raids by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher. Organizers advertised
the event as 100% legal and riders obeyed all traffic laws. Throughout
the ride, several Minneapolis police squad cars, bicycle cops, two paddy
wagons and a rented van full of more officers menaced the roughly 50
riders who participated. Two police officers wore black masks, making
them unidentifiable. One rider who attempted to leave the event was
arrested without any apparent justification and now faces charges of
disorderly conduct. The arrest appears to have been staged to justify the
massive police presence--and wasted taxpayer resources--at the peaceful,
lawful event. The arrested individual overheard his arresting officer
saying, "1 down, 39 to go" and an officer at the jail saying, "So how many
did you get?" as if authorities had planned a mass arrest.

Video of the event produced by Twin Cities Indymedia is available at:

Pictures from the event are available at:

Later in the day, even more officers and police cars, including the
unmarked vehicle of a St. Paul Police Commander, lined the streets at a
south Minneapolis church during a community lunch which was part of the
event. Officers photographed individuals as they entered the church and
recorded license plate numbers of cars outside. Although the upbeat
bicycle ride ended in Minneapolis, multiple squad cars with bicycles were
sighted afterwards at 951 Iglehart Avenue and were reported at 627 Smith
Avenue in St. Paul (sites of pre-emptive raids and listed as potential
stops on the ride), confirming the multi-agency nature of this effort.

"We've seen a definite increase in police harassment and spying at social
justice events since the RNC," states Michelle Gross, President of
Communities United Against Police Brutality. She adds, "Police have been
photographing participants, documenting license plates and even openly
harassing people who have broken no laws, especially in the last few

Despite police efforts, the March 28 event was a complete success with
many new people coming forward to show their support for the RNC 8. The
lunch raised significant funds for their legal defense. The previous day,
supporters delivered a petition with 3,000 signatures to prosecutor Susan
Gaertner demanding she drop the charges against the RNC 8. Organizers
stated this was only the first installment and that more signatures will
follow. The 17,000 member Duluth Central Labor Body also submitted a
support statement to Gaertner urging her to drop the charges, as did Don
Olson on behalf of the "Minnesota 8," well-known Vietnam-era draft
resisters. During the visit to Susan Gaertner, known undercover police
officers were again seen photographing activists.

Several organizations were responsible for planning the March 28 event and
these groups have vowed to continue their efforts in spite of police
harassment. They include Friends of the RNC 8, RNC 8 Defense Committee,
Communities United Against Police Brutality, Community RNC Arrestee
Support Structure (CRASS) and others.

Reports, including photos, from RNC 8 solidarity events can be found at

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