5 p.m., downtown St. Paul – Thousands of protesters marched from the Capitol to the Xcel Center this afternoon (September 1), largely without incident. The crowd gathered at the Capitol during the morning, stepping off to march about 1 p.m., after listening to speakers who denounced the war in Iraq and a variety of other Bush administration policies.
Hundreds of police in full riot gear lined St. Paul streets, preventing anyone from crossing out of the line of march. Many police wore face shields and gas masks, and police horses also wore face shields (see slide show in column 3 for photos.) Both marked and unmarked police cars, trucks and vans filled the streets. Police on Seventh Street prevented anyone from walking or driving into downtown St. Paul for more than two hours while the march was in progress.
The main march was preceded by a smaller parade by an unidentified group, including many young people and some with faces covered by black bandanas. This group clearly made police nervous, as they fell in behind the marchers, but allowed them to proceed on the route and turn around and leave downtown. In addition to the usual chants, this group danced in the street and used pink chalk to draw on the street at various points.
Scattered incidents of violence were reported throughout the day, including overturning a dumpster near the History Center, breaking windows in police cars and a Macy’s window in downtown St. Paul, and a mysterious black police vehicle shooting something that created smoke.
Rumors are running rampant in downtown St. Paul–we’ll keep you posted as actual news develops.