Big Green Bus arrested!

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Outside my home, police cars with flashing lights lined the street. Now what? After ten hours of chasing the continuing stories of police raids on activists and journalists, I had gone out for a quick dinner with my husband. I didn’t really think these police were there for me, but …

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I walked over to the Minnesota highway patrol officer guarding the fence at the freeway, and was ordered back across the street. Well, at least that meant they weren’t here for me. Down at the corner, I spotted the cluster of green hats that means National Lawyers Guild legal observers, and the TV crews.

Everybody was there for the big green bus with “Millennium” written on its side. The bus, formally known as the Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus, is home to 17-year-old Megan Wilson and her parents, Delilah and Stan Wilson and their three dogs and three chickens. They come from Montana, and the demonstration in the bus title refers to in-bus demonstrations of solar panels and hydroponic gardening and composting other earth-friendly, sustainable practices. They also do training in “skills for the new millennium,” such as communications and peaceful resolution of differences.

>The “permibus” folks have an interesting blog at http://permibus.livejournal.com.

The Wilsons had just done a training in Minneapolis on urban permaculture. They were pulled over on the Cretin exit ramp from I-94 as they headed to a friend’s house to park the bus and get a good night’s sleep. Megan was changing clothes, and was in her underwear when the cops ordered them off the bus, but did manage to grab a dress.

Why were they pulled over? That’s what Stan asked the police. Repeatedly. “I asked them more questions than they asked me,” he said.

“A routine traffic stop,” the police told him. A routine traffic stop, with more than a dozen police cars including Minnesota highway patrol, St. Paul, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota and Ramsey County officers lined up with lights flashing.

Stan isn’t buying it. For one thing, the police never gave any reason for pulling him over. They never asked to see his vehicle registration or proof of insurance. Instead, they asked him: “Have you ever called the police before?” and “Do you like cops?” And then they towed away the big, green bus, telling him they had to “ascertain whether it was being used for commercial purposes,” and that they had to make sure it was safe to be on the road.

I just got one side of the story, from the Wilsons, with Megan crying as her home-on-wheels rolled away. I just got one side of the story, because when I asked the cops what was going on, they told me what they have been saying all day. “I don’t know. Step back. Stay on the other side of the street.”

Mary Turck is the editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet.