St. Paul Peaceful Protests (09/04/08)
These images were borrowed off of the City Pages, so I want to thank the reporters that were there for taking some pictures and videos. Reporters were faced with a decision when covering the protests.
Option one, you could sign a waiver that states you won’t sue the police if something happens to you. You would receive police protection, but you would have to take your footage from behind police lines. If you crossed police lines, all bets were off. Oh, and one other thing. You weren’t allowed to report on the protests until AFTER the RNC was out of town.
Option two, you go down and stand in with the protesters and face teargas, mace, and arrests.
We assembled on the capitol (with our permit that was to expire at 5pm). I was in a group of four: Tara, Kara, Sean, and myself.
We marched and were stopped at a bridge. The team I went with decided to move and march on elsewhere while another stayed and inevitably was trapped in. Once our march lead us to 12th and Cedar, we sat down. We stayed there for quite some time, but I’m really not sure of how much time passed. There were no audible warnings from the police stating that we had a certain time-frame to leave from where I was- a lot of news reporters stated there were.
Tear gas was set off behind us, I don’t believe anything was done to provoke it, as most of us were sitting down and facing the other direction. From my understanding it was set off to make us scramble and scramble we did.
As we scrambled, I went to watch a group of four people linking arms get doused in mace because of their refusal to move. Once I turned around, the police had re-arranged blocking quite a large group of people in the center- Sean one of them. “Get on the fucking ground!” Officers would shout at the group. They proceeded to arrest them one-by-one.
<- Sean on his knees, in simple gesture of cooperation and peacefulness, in the left and closest to the camera shot. ->
Kara and Tara were both asking officers where we could later pick Sean up. They would either ignore the question or state that they cannot release that information at this time. I walked away on the phone trying to find someone to give us a ride, Sean happened to be our driver
Once I got off the phone, I came back to find out that Kara had tried to pass the “police line” and was maced along with as Tara for being right next to her. Volunteer medics came and flushed their eyes and mouths out with antacids and saline solution.
<- Kara, eyes closed, the side of Tara’s face to the left. ->
After the volunteers finished, they started to take us to a clinic that would help flush some more of the mace and a place to just relax. As we started, the police declared “she’s coming with us” and I ended up being forcefully pushed (two handed grip-push with one of their baton-sticks) out of the way in the process.
We had to walk a long distance around the back of the capitol to get to the volunteer medical center that was across the street from Regions. A small couple blocks walk became quite a distance because the police force wouldn’t let us pass the normal route. Tara was decontaminated at the clinic and we waited to find out what would become of our detained friends.
I can’t stress enough that our assembly was peaceful and the riot police only tried to provoke us. The literal breech of our first amendment rights is a disgusting display of the police state we’re becoming.