Police break down doors in nighttime raid on anarchist meeting

Sammy Schutz and Gabe: "The last thing I want my son to think about police is that they want to hurt him. So I tried to hide his face." (Photos by Mary Turck)

For a complete list of articles on the RNC, go to our RNC 2008 page.


"I heard somebody saying, 'They're coming, they're coming!' And feet pounding on the back stairs, pounding on the door saying they had a search warrant. They busted through the door. They've got their guns cocked at people." Sammy Schutz held tightly to five-year-old Gabe, who had been watching a video with his mother and father and about 20 other people when the police stormed into 827 Smith Avenue in St. Paul, ordering everyone down on the floor.




PRESS STATEMENT FROM RNC WELCOMING COMMITTEE AFTER SHERIFF AND SPPD RAID OF CONVERGENCE SPACE

FRIDAY AUGUST 29 2008

Assitant Police Chief Bostrom has talked about the St. Paul Standard, and on the anniversary of last years’ critical mass police riot, we saw its true face. The Ramsey County sheriff’s dept and the SPPD raided the RNC convergence space and detained over 50 people in an attempt to preempt planned protests of the RNC on Monday.

Looking for items found in any twin cities house like jars, paint, and rags, this attempt to portray us as criminals and destroy our credibility has already backfired as evidenced by the masses who have come to support us.

We are now accused of a simple fire code violation -which is outside the scope of the sheriffs department and clearly not justified provocation for a forceful raid with guns being drawn. Children and elderly people were inside the convergence center when the police violently busted down the doors. The police may claim that the raid was executed according to protocol - however, the violence inherent in this action may only be a hint of the violence to be expected on Monday and beyond, and is only a hint at the violence perpetrated daily by the police.

The convergence center is simply a gathering place and is not used for illegal actions - it is a place for workshops and trainings. Tonight we were watching films and sharing food.

This action will not deter us from our plans to protest the RNC on September 1st. We want to invite all people who oppose this police oppression to join us on September 1st. See you in the streets.

"All I could feel was Mama Bear—do whatever you want to do to me, but I need to get my son out safe. He was watching his dad get handcuffed. And he's saying, 'Mommy, mommy, why did they crash through the door?'"

Gabe's question remained unanswered. Ramsey County sheriff's deputies said they were executing a search warrant, but would not show a copy of the warrant to lawyers or reporters. More than a dozen police vehicles, almost all unmarked, and more than 20 sheriff's deputies and St. Paul police arrived at the building about 9:45 Friday night and were still there at 1 a.m., when I left.


Police in front of 827 Smith Avenue Convergence Center.
After handcuffing the people in the building (occupants said there were about two dozen on the second floor and "about 40 or 50" on the first floor), police processed them one by one. Each person was asked for identification, name and address, and then photographed.

People who had been inside the building told similar stories of police entering with guns drawn. They said police rushed past the security desk on the first floor, and used a battering ram to crash through the second floor back door.

"They said if you don't show us ID and get your picture taken, we will arrest you and take you away," said Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, who had arrived five or ten minutes before the raid began, planning to attend a meeting. "They never said what the basis for arrests would be. We were waiting for a meeting, for God's sake! I cannot tell you how much like a police state that felt to me."

After each person was released after being photographed, exiting the building and crossing between police cars to a crowd of cheering friends on the sidewalk across from the building. No one was arrested, but sheriff's deputies remained inside the building.

Eventually, a city contractor arrived to board up the building, allegedly for unspecified code violations.



"This isn't the way we do things in St. Paul." City Council member Dave Thune



St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune said he was trying to find out who ordered the building locked up and on what grounds. "This isn't the way we do things in St. Paul," Thune said. "I don't want the city to get sucked into something that the sheriff's office is concocting."

Thune said that someone had called in the city contractor and ordered him to secure the building, but this was not done according ot St. Paul city procedures.

"Normally," said Thune, "we only board up buildings that are vacant and ramshackle. The fire inspector has no idea what's going on. He hadn't been called. The person who is on 24/7 call was not called. I talked to him trying to find out who did issue that order and why."

The building at 827 Smith Avenue had been rented by the RNC Welcoming Committee as a "convergence space," open to activists for meetings, eating, and just hanging out. Earlier in the week, a large downstairs room in the former theater held tables of literature and about a dozen computers, set up for free wi-fi access for visitors. Large maps showed downtown St. Paul streets. The kitchen was spotless, with stainless steel refrigerators and a gas range, looking like a commercial kitchen in a church basement. The second floor room, where Sammy and her family were watching a video on consumerism Friday night, had comfortable theater seats and space for meetings.



Search warrant: from soap flakes and X boxes to Molotov cocktails



A young man who would not give his name said that many people had asked to see the search warrant. After "what seemed like a long time," someone was allowed to read the warrant aloud. His recollection, affirmed by at least two others, was that the warrant was very long and listed many items, including soap flakes, X boxes, paint, computer operating support manuals, caltrops, bleach, floppy disks with digital information, Molotov cocktails and many other items.

Dave Thune reported that sheriff's deputies hauled out literature and other items in boxes. Literature available in the Convergence Center earlier in the week included "The Struggle is Our Inheritance: A History of Radical Minnesota," "Anarchy: A Pamphlet," "a guide to 2008 antiRNC organizing," and "Need to Know Basics: Coldsnap Legal Collective's Minnesota Legal Primer for the RNC."


Police loaded confiscated items into a police vehicle.

The activists had studied their legal rights, and said they repeated asked to see the search warrant, said they did not consent to searches, and asked to see their lawyers. At least one person on the second floor managed to dial a number for the National Lawyer's Guild (NLG) as the police burst through the door. Though NLG lawyers arrived on the scene early, they were not allowed to enter the building and no one in the building was allowed access to lawyers.

"Here we are in this country trying to fight terrorism," said one activist, "and I experience it -- a gun in my face!"

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    Mary Turck's picture
    Mary Turck

    Mary Turck (maryturck [at] gmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist, and former editor of the TC Daily Planet.

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    Thanks to everyone who

    Thanks to everyone who waited outside the center tonight. These were the most traumatic 2 hours of my life, and I can't express how much it means to me that people cared so much about me and the others in there with me. If I could have hugged you all I would have. You all are the real Americans, not McCain, Obama, the police, or anyone else. I love all of you, and you've touched 60+ lives in ways that words cannot convey. This is mutual aid in action; whenever any of you are in trouble, you can be sure that those of us who were detained inside will do everything we can.

    Now you know the rest of the story...

    FYI: This kind of bullying behavior on the part of the police is status quo in the minority world. The only reason this story is making any noise is due to the fact that most, if not all, of the victims in this situation are white. However, it should be pointed out that once again, white folks will get preferential treatment as in this case. You see, nobody actually got arrested. That would never have been the case had the victims been of some other ethnic / racial makeup. From past experience, here's a point of advice if anybody ever gets in this type of situation in the future: As the police are storming in, quickly call a telephone number that you know will be picked up by voice mail. Furtively put your phone back in your pocket and let the voice mail record the raid. Often, the police will use intimidating / self-incriminating language that may help your case if you need to file some kind of complaint against them. Even if the police realize you are recording their rants, it will be too late as your voice mail will have caught them in the act! Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Call Tom Walsh - St. Paul Police

    Here is the number for Tom Walsh, spokesman for the St. Paul Gestapo, if anyone would care to call him: 651-266-5735.

    Police Raid

    Where are we living- China? Who we routinely criticize at every opportunity for their lack of 'democracy'. The politicians -city council members, mayor, and everyone who has a visibile public role in governing are as guilty as the police for this gestapo type raid if they remain silent and do not speak out against this obvious form of intimidation and illegal action. The elephant in the room is not the demonstators, or the RNC, but the police state that is eroding and eliminating our civil rights without so much as a murmur from our legislators. The police do not go in by themselves. Who directed this action? What was the underlying intent-no one was arrested. It was to intimidate. Intimidate. Intimidate. I hope the National Lawyers Guild initates a lawsuit against the police and City of St. Paul for this atrocious conduct because frankly we are headed down a very dangerous path -particularly when one considers the dossiers and information the government has collected on each person in the country. Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) reminds us once again: I n Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

    raid on building

    We were driving home last night and saw the raid as we went by the smith building. That was total police state tactics. Thank you to the legal team for showing up so quickly. And thank you Dave Thune for being up on the scene.

    Ha Ha-Scum gathering disrupted!

    The police wouldn't have done what they did unless they had some intellegence-the so-called "protesters" were up to no good, as anarchist/communist/Pro Muslim Terrorist/Anti-American scum always are, they were plotting violence and mayhem- The police made sure that scheme was disrupted and now these sorry play-revolutionaries are crying "police brutality" and the usual Leftist nonsense...If I were running that operation I woulda cracked some heads just to show them who really owns the streets of St Paul-Americans-Not dirty, scruffy, street rabble DEFECATE 68'-DEATH TO THE LEFT-TREASON SHALL NOT PREVAIL!

    death threats? come on,

    death threats? come on, pal. a bit extreme, don't you think? it's clear you know absolutely nothing about the incident, and furthermore, your judgmental reactionary language encourages more senseless violence than could ever be concocted by people you've dismissed as "dirty, scruffy (sic), street rabble." where did you get the idea that there were any "pro muslim terrorist(s)" involved??

    True Patriots

    First I would like to share one of my all time favorite quotes which comes from Edward Abbey- "A Patriot Must Be Prepared To Defend His Country Even Against His Governement". Secondly, before we go assuming that the activists are guilty of anything lets remember the number of times police have kicked down doors on faulty information or even had their intelligence so screwed up they have kicked down doors at the wrong address. Third, there is this little thing called the constitution and a presumption of innocence until guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This applies to all U.S. Citizens regardless of whether their politics are left right or down the middle of the road. The traitors to this country are those who would disreagard the protections embodied in the Constitution at the drop of a hat when the people whose rights and protections are being violated simply have a different political view. Lastly let's not forget that every time our nation has taken a significant step forward in the right direction it has come on the heels of the people taking to the streets to campion a worthy cause. From the Boston Tea Party, to the end of slavery, to women's voting rights to child labor laws. Ours is a nation rich in a history of protest, of politics of feet in the streets. Those who would suggest otherwise no nothing of our nation's history, no little of true patriotism and have little or no respect for the inailienable rights we all share, protect and must exersize regularly.

    you are an idiot

    i have been on the receiving end of this kind of raid, and it's people like you, who think the police can do no wrong while you sit idly by and let them harass people exercising their constitutional rights, who let this shit continue. it's always easy to sit and talk shit until it's YOUR house being raided. then you will scream and shout to anyone who'll listen. only, if you let them do it in the first place, who will be there to listen?

    clarification question

    My question is this: DID the police find Molotov cocktails, or was that listed on the arrest warrant as something they believed they would find? Anyone know?

    No evidence of crimes so far other than crimes of the police

    That's just a list of what they were looking for, not what they found. I'm not in town, but I've read numerous reports on the raid, and none so far mention anything remotely suspicious being found. The only suspicious activity is on the part of the police, who have raided this convergence center with guns drawn and raided at least three homes of activists in the area. If you ask me, the goal of the people giving orders to these police is not to find incriminating evidence, but rather to disrupt and terrorize the nonviolent political activities of concerned citizens like you and I. If that's not a sign of a police state in action, I don't know what is.

    Useful?

    While losing the Convergence Center is no doubt inconvenient, I think the raid might prove to be very useful politically, as it clearly demonstrates the thug nature of the authorities, far more graphically than any rhetoric could do. I hope photos, videos and sound recording were made and preserved; these can be distributed in various locales like YouTube. Get the police on the defensive and there will be less chance of attacks and provocations during the demonstrations and other actions at the RNC. Secondly, the warrant the police used will have a trail which some light should be cast upon. What officials cooperated in setting up this police-state thuggery? Perhaps the Republican Party is implicated. Use those Constitutional rights and protects we have while we still have them.

    correction

    Coldsnap's guide is "Need to Know Basis"

    The way we do things in St. Paul

    Councilor Thune, Mayor Coleman - this is indeed "the way we do things in St. Paul," it's what's happening and it's going to get worse. Deal with it. Stop it. Call off the dogs.

    warrant was unfounded

    the only thing on the search warrant they could have found was kitchen supplies.

    Want it to stop - Take Back Control of Our Own Government

    If you want this crap to stop, please join the Fire Congress Campaign and first step in the plan layed out at "The Kick Them All Out Project" http://www.KickThemAllOut.com

    Police break down doors in night-time raid on anarchist meeting

    "The building at 827 Smith Avenue had been rented by the RNC Welcoming Committee as a “convergence space,” open to activists for meetings, eating, and just hanging out." Rather than thinking it was isolated incident, the whole story seems more like a story of someone creating a "watering hole" for gathering ones' opponents at a center and known spot.

    From the story this would

    From the story this would seem to have been Bob Fletcher's show, with SPPD acting in a support role. This stunt was a surprise, even for a class "A" jerk like Bob. It's unfortunate that SPPD, which is very professional department, chose to support this action. I would have expected better. I believe this is a situation where the County Board or the Courts should hold Fletcher accountable and force him to justify his department's actions. This is yet another example of why the Ramsey County Sheriff should be appointed, rather than elected.

    This sounds...

    This sounds a lot like the raid on the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley, California last week. A little about that raid here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/08/27/18530407.php

    You anarchists never learn.

    You anarchists never learn. You got your asses handed to you in Long Beach. Sherman Austin went to the federal pen and your were thrown out of your place on Redondo Ave. Welcome to Denver.

    Racist

    to: Minority Report Funny how race wasn't even brought up. That is, until you came along. In my daily life race isn't something that crosses my mind much. I work in a mixed environment, live in a mixed environment, was raised in a mixed environment and associate with people of all walks of life. The only time race even becomes apparent is when someone with a chip on their shoulder, like you, comes along making accusations based solely on skin color. You sir/madam, are the racist.

    Did anyone think the

    Did anyone think the government would give $2 trillion a year to Homeland Security and not plan to use it? When Bush said you are either with us or against us, he was serious. The fascists in control see no difference between dissent at home and terrorism. DOWN WITH LE FASCISTE!

    violation of 1st amendment

    1st amendment of US Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Supreme Court has found this restriction applies to the states as well. See DeJonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353 (1937). The police were acting under the authority of the state. The order to raid the building and the ensuing actions taken by the St. Paul Police violate the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. (see Art. VI, cl 2. "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof. . . shall be the supreme Law of the land. . . ") The police' actions are illegal.

    The Police Don't Care if it's illegal

    Yes, the police's actions were illegal. However, it doesn't really matter, to them, or to the courts, or the state. We could file a million complaints with the SPPD, with the RCSD, but nothing would ever happen. There exists no such thing as accountability for these men in blue. They do whatever they want, with the backing & of the state. It doesn't really matter if they break the law; they're not paid to enforce the law, or to know the law. They're paid to do what they're told, and they're told to protect the property of the rich. So that's what they do, because that's what they get paid to do. The Constitution is a false hope document. It's no longer relevant.

    @ Joe B

    Just because you live in a color-blind happy unicorn sparkle world doesn't mean there is no real racism. Do some research before you shoot your mouth off. Addressing the article: I am so cynical that I am not at all surprised. That upsets me more than anything.

    Police state coming??

    No, it's already here. In my 60 years of voting, I've never seen such overt police abuse of power. Pre-emptive? When was that allowed to happen in America? That's what we do to places like Iraq and Iran. (The new American way.) Watching video last evening of one of the raids, the people inside were ordered not to come out or they'd be arrested. This while the 'police' waited for a search warrant. When the 'warrant' arrived it was for the address next door, but in the end the door was broken in, and most inside have been "detained" which in itself is a travesty on our 'Judicial' system. Everyone should check out just what 'detained' means, and then make certain to always be arrested as opposed to detained.

    illegal?

    Hey, very interesting post. My written English is not so good so I write in German: "Lieber den Spatz in der Hand, als die Taube auf dem Dach." Yours sincerely Seo

    abuse of power

    in the uk yesterday an opposition member of parliament was arrested by 20 police and his office raided. this mild mannered mans crime was to expose the governments poor record on immigration. the police state beckons

    as per the above

    any comments?

    Terrifying stuff

    I cannot believe the things that happen in this world sometimes. Hollywood writers often say "you can't make this stuff up" and these kinds of stories are the proof of that. If somebody from Hollywood wrote a movie about this stuff, they'd say it was preposterous, yet there it is in real life.

    The real reason for faces to the floor

    I think the cops are less paranoid about finding people inside with drawn guns, then they are about finding people with drawn cameras. In other words, they storm in and do an "everyone down" so their fascist-appearing little troup does not get featured all over the internet. Remember when Janice Reno's troupers stormed that house in Florida to rescue Alian Gonzales? the one photo of the SWAT dude pointing his automatic at some guy was all over the net and the papers.

     

    SO - have those cameras ready at all times. You need a web camn that keeps sending the photos to a private folder on an internet site where they get mirrored off somewhere - clean them off every week if no raid happens. Even a couple good photos of one of these raids would do the world a heap of good.

    This is what happened when

    This is what happened when Hitler was in charge. He started off peaceful with promises and slowly took people's freedom away piece by piece. Please watch ''The Hiding Place' despite the sort of sad ending as it really shows the lives during World War 2 and what they risked to help people. There is a saying History Repeats Itself and I am finding that VERY true like a curse.