The “Food Not Bombs” (FNB) house at 2301 23rd Ave. S was the site of one of three pre-RNC raids that took place simultaneously at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30.
Nathanael David Secor, 26, of Minneapolis, was arrested during the raid and charged in Ramsey County District Court with conspiracy to commit riot in the second degree in furtherance of terrorism. The charges, filed on Sept. 3, were brought under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act.
Secor is described in the complaint as being a core member of the RNC Welcoming Committee, which is a self-proclaimed anarchist group whose mission was to disrupt the RNC convention held in St. Paul, Sept. 1–4. He is also an FNB volunteer, according to an FNB founding member now living in New Mexico.
According to an Aug. 30 press release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the raids were carried out by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department and supported by the FBI, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).
Journalists from the Twin Cities Daily Planet and the Minnesota Independent were present during the raid. Bystanders reported noticing a sack of onions being taken from the home. One woman, identified as Heather Adams, told reporters she had arrived from Chicago the night before with plans to protest at the RNC. She said she was sleeping inside the house when police, wearing riot gear and camouflage jackets, came into the home. She also reported that some maps of St. Paul present in the house were photographed by police and that a city inspector was on site.
The complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court lists items confiscated during the house raid, including metal caltrops, a plastic bottle containing an unknown yellow liquid, plastic buckets with unknown or yellow liquids, slingshots, smoke bombs, fireworks, light bulbs, chemicals, paint, PVC pipe, bottles of vinegar, bolt cutters, roofing nails, broken-up cement blocks and 17 u-locks.
A press release by Bruce Nestor, an attorney with the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG), posted on the their website indicates that two of the buckets confiscated from the home contained “grey water” used to flush toilets as a means to conserve water, and the third was found in an illegal apartment over a garage in the rear, occupied by a person “unconnected to the house occupants or the RNC.”
In mid-Setpember, the house bore a Minneapolis Department of Inspections notice dated Aug. 30 as being “unfit for human habitation.”
Kellie R. Jones of the Minneapolis Regulatory Services Division told The Bridge that the property is cited with a “letter of intent to condemn for lack of maintenance” based on plumbing issues, clutter and illegal occupancy in the basement. At this point, Jones said, if the problems are not fixed, the property will be condemned for maintenance, after which the property will require “a code compliance inspection and repair in order to reoccupy,” she said.
Ward 2 City Councilmember Cam Gordon expressed concern that city inspectors had been asked to board up the house after the raid.
“Luckily they didn’t,” Gordon said, “so people still had access to their belongings in the home.
“I got a lot of calls that day after [the raid at the FNB house] happened from people on the block and in the area who were concerned about it,” said Gordon. “I continue to be concerned about it.”
Gordon, along with Ward 9 Council Member Gary Schiff, called for an independent investigation into RNC-related law-enforcement actions. THe City Council declined to authorize such an investigation of the MPD, however, and Mayor R.T. Rybak’s office seems to have backed off an earlier announcement by the mayor that one would be undertaken.
In September, City Pages quoted the mayor’s aide Jeremy Hanson as saying: “This is not going to be a formal investigation or comprehensive review.”
The arrestee Secor, a Chicago native and graduate of Northland College in Wisconsin, is now known as one of the so-called “RNC 8,” the eight individuals considered core RNC Welcoming Committee members, according to the complaint filed.
Food Not Bombs is described on their website as a grassroots movement active throughout the world to end hunger that “has supported actions to stop the globalization of the economy, restrictions to the movements of people, and exploration and the destruction of the earth.”
FNB is “dedicated to nonviolent social change,” said Keith McHenry, an original organizer who has been a part of FNB for 28 years, since its inception in Massachusetts in 1980. “We feed the hungry.”
McHenry told The Bridge that Secor was an FNB volunteer in Minneapolis.
McHenry said that 1000 cities around the globe have FNB groups, that FNB was involved in relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and that local FNB groups are currently working in the Galveston/Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Ike.
“I had never heard anything but good things about the “Food not Bombs” organization,” said Gordon. “And I don’t have any reason to believe that the people who were living there didn’t have the best intentions” in sharing their home with people in town for RNC-related activities.
According to a statement by Nestor, the charges pending against Secor (and the seven other members of the “RNC 8”) carry a penalty of up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
An information and resource page called “Friends of the RNC 8” can be found here
See a comprehensive list of links to TCDP’s RNC-related articles here
Liz Riggs contributed to this article.