FREE SPEECH ZONE | The “RNC 8” “criminalizing dissent” conspiracy: A blatant case of ends-justify-the-means anarchy


“Certainly, lawsuits should be filed against law enforcement and other officials to determine if they unlawfully suppressed dissent. But they didn’t conspire to “‘crash the convention’ and foment a ‘train wreck.'”[1]

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Indeed, if the sociopathic logic of using “force and violence” to “shut down and disrupt” the Constitutionally protected 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) were to prevail, then Karl Rove and his cohorts could concoct a “criminalizing dissent” defense to justify Molotov cocktails, fireworks throwings, human waste dousings, freeway overpass droppings, slingshot hurlings, store and bank window smashings, squad car and media van disablings, delegate bus tire slashings, street and bridge blockings, marching permit violations, security perimeter penetrations, assaults on delegates and bystanders, assaults on police, arrestee escapes, and other “direct actions” to “shut down and disrupt” the Constitutionally protected conventions of the Democratic Party, Green Party US, Socialist Party USA, Communist Party USA or any other party.[1,2]

This is a revised and updated version of my 8/28/10 “The ‘RNC 8’. . . minus ‘1’” and 10/5/10 “The ‘RNC 8’. . . minus ‘4’” pieces with added References and Comments. See especially the Comments in Ref’s. 1-3, 15, 18, 20, 22, 29-31, 34-36, 38-39, 42, 46 and 48-50. As a “means” of positively changing public opinions and government policies, the anarchist-led “crash the convention” actions are still resulting in the most costly and counter-productive “ends” I’ve encountered in 46 years of Minnesota “peace and justice” activism:

o On 8/27/10 “RNC 8” defendant Erik Oseland likely spared himself and the State of Minnesota even more court time, jail time and financial cost by pleading guilty to conspiring to commit third-degree property damage, a gross misdemeanor. His joint “RNC 8” felony charges of conspiring to commit first-degree property damage and second-degree riot were dismissed. The plea was as valid as a jury conviction.[3-8]

o On 9/16/10 those joint “RNC 8” felony charges against Luce Guillen-Givens, Erin Trimmer and Monica Bicking were dropped with no plea or trial.[9-12] And on 9/9/09 the joint Furtherance of Terrorism felony charge against the “RNC 8” was dropped.[13-14]

o However on 10/19/10, after vowing they would go to trial and not accept a plea agreement, “RNC 8” defendants Nathanael Secor and Garrett Fitzgerald defiantly pled guilty to conspiring to commit third-degree property damage, while Robert Czernik and Max Specktor defiantly pled guilty to conspiring to commit third-degree riot; their joint felony charges were dismissed.[6-8,15-19]

Those final RNC trial decisions and the haunting second anniversary of the RNC “train wreck” are timely reasons to reflect on what our “peace and justice” community can still learn from them–in light of the fact that our “peace and justice” messages to the RNC and public at large have been obscured and discredited by preventable anarchist-led violence and adverse judicial rulings[20]: 

o Pre-RNC protester lawsuits on RNC parade and demonstration permits were dismissed.[21,22]

o Many post-RNC lawsuits have been filed,[23-26] including the “Democracy Now!” suit that alleges police misconduct and improper law enforcement policies.[21,27] One by a “shut down” supporter that alleged unlawful entry and search of his Saint Paul property was dismissed,[23,25,27] and one that alleged unlawful 9/1/08 mass arrests was dismissed.[20,24-25,28]

o About 12,000 people marched on the 9/1-9/4/08 RNC at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown Saint Paul. For several hours on 9/1, over 500 anarchist and other protesters engaged in unpermitted “direct actions” on streets, highways and bridges near the Center. They continued on 9/2, 9/3 and 9/4 with fewer anarchists and “actions.” Over 800 protesters, journalists and others were arrested before, during or after the RNC–and over 100, including many who called themselves anarchists, pled to or were convicted of federal firearms (Molotov cocktail) felonies; or of state property damage, assault, terroristic threats or escaping custody felonies; or of gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors.[1,3-5,15-16,20-21,23,30-34] Were they acts of legitimate “dissent” or criminal “terrorism”?[35-36]

And 29 months after the RNC, how much on respecting the rule of law and especially the First and Fourteenth Amendments of our Constitution has actually been learned by RNC officials, law enforcement officials, journalists, attorneys, protesters, their partisan supporters, and ordinary citizens? For some apparently, not nearly enough to deter another “train wreck.”


If an article link doesn’t work you can Google the title.

[1] The opening “train wreck” statement is quoted from Ref. 36. The phrases “crash the convention” and “shutdown and disrupt” are in the 9/3/08 “STATEMENT OF PROBABLE CAUSE” of the “Criminal Complaint, Detention Order, and Charges against the ‘RNC 8′” at>:

“Your complainant reports that on August 27, 2007 the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, along with other State and Federal law enforcement agencies began an investigation into a self-described anarchist anti-authoritarian group which entitled itself the ‘RNC Welcoming Committee’ (RNCWC). The main goal of the RNCWC according to their website is to ‘crash the convention, shut down and disrupt the Republican National Convention (RNC).'” For the RNCWC also see 2, 19-21, 23, 37-43, 48 and 50.

[2] The “direct actions” described above, along with others not described, are clearly documented by the References and Comments. Yet in 11/10/10 replies to a draft of my piece, a self-described “independent” journalist (who also didn’t spell check) said this in part: “Mr;Dechert HIMSELF SAYS: HE WAS NOT AT THE RNC PROTESTS. . . . [He] is engaigng in outright slander, libel, lies—or . . . simply quoting the lies by law enforcement and corporate media. NONE OF THESE THINGS [ten of the most violent “direct actions”] ACTUALLY HAPPENED. . . . Thanks for helping the State to further demonize dissent. . . .”

That of course is a blatant denial of reality. As a key RNCWC collaborator, Lydia Howell has promoted and defended the “shut down” on her KFAI radio show and in her Indymedia or other writings, scorned those who haven’t supported it, and condemned the arrests of “RNC 8” and other protesters. But she didn’t reply on whether she–as an “independent” journalist–has adhered to the conspired “St. Paul Principles” and failed to publicly disclose that; KFAI didn’t reply to other adherence queries.

For details of the “Principles” see 40-42, including the “INDEPENDENT MEDIA” in 41 and “Twin Cities Indymedia” in 42. For my coverage of the RNC over a 39-month span, see 15, 20, 43 and 45-46.

As for “criminalizing” or “demonizing dissent,” I don’t support violent, forceful “dissent.” And I’ve consistently held that the Constitutional rights of RNC protesters AND participants should have been respected; that “shut down and disrupt” actions would result in those rights being undermined; and that law enforcement officials AND protesters should be held duly accountable for undermining them. Howell and many of her “crash the convention” cohorts still reject and distort my positions.[3,15-20,22,39-43,48,50]

[3] “Man pleads guilty to gross misdemeanor in RNC protest case, gets 91 days”

“Critics have derided law enforcement and the county attorney’s office for prosecuting the protesters, saying the focus on them has been an attempt to ‘criminalize dissent.’

“‘This is clearly not about criminalizing dissent,’ [Ramsey County Attorney Susan] Gaertner said. ‘It’s about criminalizing destructive behavior and prosecuting destructive behavior. He pleaded guilty to that, and I think that’s appropriate.'” Also see 18, 31, 36, 50 and “Tindal” in 29.

[4] “RNC 8 Defendant Erik Oseland Accepts Gross Misdemeanor Plea Deal”

[5] “Erik Oseland leaves RNC 8”

[6] 609.175 CONSPIRACY. . . .

Subd. 2. To commit crime. Whoever conspires with another to commit a crime and in furtherance of the conspiracy one or more of the parties does some overt act in furtherance of such conspiracy may be sentenced as follows: . . .

(3) if the crime intended is any other felony or a gross misdemeanor, to imprisonment or to payment of a fine of not more than one-half the imprisonment or fine provided for that felony or gross misdemeanor or both.

Subd. 3. Application of section jurisdiction. This section applies if:

(1) the defendant in this state conspires with another outside of this state; or

(2) the defendant outside of this state conspires with another in this state; or

(3) the defendant outside of this state conspires with another outside of this state and an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy is committed within this state by either of them; or

(4) the defendant in this state conspires with another in this state. . . .


Subdivision 1. Criminal damage to property in the FIRST degree. Whoever intentionally causes damage to physical property of another without the latter’s consent may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both, if:

(1) the damage to the property caused a reasonably foreseeable risk of bodily harm; or

(2) the property damaged belongs to a common carrier and the damage impairs the service to the public rendered by the carrier; or

(3) the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $1,000 measured by the cost of repair and replacement; or

(4) the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $500 measured by the cost of repair and replacement and the defendant has been convicted within the preceding three years of an offense under this subdivision or subdivision 2. . . .

Subd. 2. Criminal damage to property in the THIRD degree. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision 1a, whoever intentionally causes damage to another person’s physical property without the other person’s consent may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both, if the damage reduces the value of the property by more than $500 but not more than $1,000 as measured by the cost of repair and replacement. . . . [Emphases added.]

[8] 609.71 RIOT. . . .

Subd. 2. Riot SECOND degree. When three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property, each participant who is armed with a dangerous weapon or knows that any other participant is armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of riot second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

Subd. 3. Riot THIRD degree. When three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property, each participant therein is guilty of riot third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $1,000, or both. . . . [Emphases added.]

Copyright © 2009 by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota. All rights reserved.

[9] “Remember the RNC 8? Now, there are only 4”

[10] “RNC 8 charges dismissed for three defendants”

[11] “Charges dismissed against three of RNC 8 suspects”

[12] “Charges Dropped for 3 Accused of Planning to Riot”

[13] “Terrorism charges against RNC 8 are dropped”

“Jordan Kushner, one of their attorneys, said it was obvious they weren’t terrorists. ‘When people think of terrorism, they think of people bombing buildings,’ he said. ‘There is nothing that they are accused of even planning to do that comes close to a common sense understanding of terrorism.'” Also see 1, 14, 18, 30, 33-36, 50 and the anarchist critique of “terrorism charges” in 41.


Subdivision 1. Definition. As used in this section, a crime is committed to “further terrorism” if the crime is a felony and is a premeditated act involving violence to persons or property that is intended to:

(1) terrorize, intimidate, or coerce a considerable number of members of the public in addition to the direct victims of the act; and

(2) significantly disrupt or interfere with the lawful exercise, operation, or conduct of government, lawful commerce, or the right of lawful assembly.

Subd. 2. Furtherance of terrorism; crime described; penalty. A person who commits a felony crime to further terrorism is guilty of a crime. The statutory maximum for the crime is 50 percent longer than the statutory maximum for the underlying crime.

History: 2002 c 401 art 1 s 20 [The Minnesota Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002.]

Copyright © 2009 by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota. All rights reserved.

See the federal definition of “Terrorism” in 36.

[15] “Pleas close book on convention protests”

I attended the hearing. Ramsey County District Judge Teresa Warner, who has presided over their case since September 2008, sternly reminded each pleader that he was being sentenced for his admitted criminal behavior, not his stated political beliefs.

[16] “Last ‘RNC 8’ protesters admit guilt – but remain defiant”

[17] “Press Conference – Garrett Fitzgerald’s Post-Hearing Speech”

“Expressions of unrest come not from one person, or even one group of people alone, but from tumult in the social fabric. War, economic crisis, environmental devastation – that annoying boss at work – that’s what brings people out into the street. And, out in the streets of St. Paul on September 1st, 2008, for a brief moment, authority lost control. . . .

“I was in jail for those two hours when authority lost control, but if anything I did helped to bring them about – I couldn’t’ be more proud and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

“In a heartbeat because my heart still beats, and until the day that it stops, I will fight for true freedom and an end to all oppression.”

On that same web page and in 18 see his ends-justify-the means “pre-sentencing statement” and that of Max Specktor and Nathanael Secor.

[18] “Blinded By ‘The Law'” and

Steve Clemens is an outspoken Twin Cities advocate of non-violent protest actions. He served on the so-called Minnesota Peace Team that was organized to “de-escalate violence” against people–but not against property. And to my knowledge, like other “peace and justice” leaders he didn’t publicly oppose and strive to prevent the anarchist-led conspiracy to forcefully and violently “shut down and disrupt” the RNC. See 1, 20, 22, 30, the federal definition of “Terrorism” in 36, his Mennonista RNC articles, and the Peace Team statements at>.

He also attended the final four’s plea hearing,[15] and in his “Blinded” article he quotes their “criminalization of dissent” or other pre-sentencing statements and condemns their “notorious” case: “This case is all about politics. From pre-emptive house raids to ridiculous trumped-up felony charges alleging ‘terrorism’, it has been from start-to-finish about ‘politics’. . . .

“But the most significant reason this case is all about politics is the utter silence in the courtroom about the grossest violation of law: what the Nuremberg Tribunal calls the supreme international crime: ‘to initiate a war of aggression’. The main reason thousands of citizens came to protest at the RNC centered around two wars initiated by the President of the United States in contravention of the United Nations Charter. For the court to pretend to strictly follow ‘the law’ while ignoring the context of the war is not only disingenuous but absurd. . . .

“I don’t think I witnessed much ‘justice’ in the St. Paul Courtroom today.” See 3, 13-14, 30-31, 34-36, 38-39, 50, “Tindal” in 29, and the anarchist critique of “terrorism charges” in 41.

On 9/17/09 Clemens was one of “The Other RNC 8” convicted of misdemeanor trespass for breaching a security fence to deliver an 8/31/08 message against the Iraq War. Their ends-justify-the means defense was also premised on international law–but unlike the original “RNC 8” their protest actions were premised on non-violence. See “Nun arrested at Republican National Convention says she did the right thing” at>.

[19] “Community, Solidarity, Resistance: The Conclusion of the RNC 8 Case and Some Lessons Learned”

“Thank you for remembering the St. Paul Principles – that despite our differences and misgivings, we are strongest when working together as one movement united for radical social change and determined to win. . . . In solidarity, The RNC 8 and the RNC 8 Defense Committee” Also see the “Principles” in 2, 20, 22, 39-42 and 46 along with “CRASS” in 30. After the RNC ended, the RNCWC “coalesced” to “Friends of the RNC 8” and the “RNC 8 Defense Committee.”[48]

[20] “Report of the Republican National Convention Public Safety Planning and Implementation Review Commission”

“Based upon the Commission’s review of the public safety aspects of the RNC, it is clear that the peaceful protest community really lost out in the event . . . because their messages disappeared in the ‘noise’ created by the anarchists and the media’s disproportionate coverage of the anarchists’ conduct and its coverage of its own interaction with police. . . . [T]he term ‘protester’ became synonymous with those engaged in violence in downtown Saint Paul.”

Our “messages” might not have been “obscured” and “discredited” by media concentration on “anarchist violence” and the subsequent “judicial rulings”–if Minnesota “peace and justice” leaders had  publicly opposed and strived to prevent the conspiracy to “shut down and disrupt” the RNC. To my knowledge none of them did; instead many–including “independent” journalists–aided and abetted the “violence” by adhering to the “St. Paul Principles” promoted by the anarchist Twin Cities-based RNCWC. The “RNC 8” and many other protesters were also RNCWC collaborators.[2,5,19,23,37-43,46,48-50].

NOTE: I’m alleging “aided and abetted” in the context of Minnesota Statute “609.05 LIABILITY FOR CRIMES OF ANOTHER. Subdivision 1. Aiding, abetting; liability. A person is criminally liable for a crime committed by another if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime. . . .” To my knowledge no one has been charged under that statute, but the 2008 RNC was apparently the first time local “peace and justice” leaders conspired with local and national anarchists to concoct such “Principles” and “shut down” a national political convention or other major U.S. event.[34-35,40-42,48]

I began my research on their plans in October 2007. In February 2008 I told an associate they were “a train wreck coming down the track” and advised him and his “peace and justice” organization not to adhere to the so-called “Principles.” He didn’t but some
members apparently did. On 8/20/08 I published and widely distributed an op-ed piece that strongly opposed the impending actions to “crash the convention,” violate the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of RNC participants, and undermine the “impartiality and credibility of our ‘peace and justice’ community.”[43] I also volunteered to be a Minnesota ACLU observer but wisely bowed out. I have asthma and the tear gas or pepper spray could have killed me, especially if the road block and other “direct actions” prevented quick access to Regents Hospital where I receive emergency care. See Howell in 2.

As a longtime media activist and retired media professional, I closely monitored radio, TV, Internet and print media coverage of the RNC. On 9/5/08 before I left for my daughter’s wedding in France, I was able to visit Saint Paul City Hall to join with other media activists who presented thousands of petitions on dropping charges against “Democracy Now!’s” Amy Goodman and other journalists. They were dropped.[44-45] On 9/2-3/08 as the conflict continued at the RNC, I was also able to attend the Peace Island conference in Saint Paul where many RNC-related issues were examined. And on 9/24/08 I was able to observe the angry, intense Saint Paul City Council “listening session.”[46]

[21] “2008 Republican National Convention”

Section 6 reviews the actions and rulings on parade and demonstration permits; 6.1 cites many of the RNC search warrants and arrests; 6.2 covers the initial federal trials of Bradley Neil Crowder and David Guy McKay who were charged with possessing Molotov cocktails. Ref’s. 31 and 32 update the trials and the issues of pleading guilty to or being tried for firearms felonies; 33 details Matthew Bradley DePalma’s felony plea; 34 examines all three cases. The sections have not been further updated.

[22] “Coalition prepares to march–peacefully”

This article provides further background on the permit actions and rulings cited in 21. It also includes a long list of Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War members. Most if not all of their leaders–especially the Twin Cities ones–knew that certain members intended to implement “force and violence” to “shut down and disrupt” the RNC. Yet they “adamantly maintain[ed] that both the rally and the march will be peaceful and well organized, and separate from any violent protests.” By adhering to the “St. Paul Principles” and not publicly opposing and striving to prevent “violent protests,” they did not in fact “prepare to march–peacefully.” Also see 2, 18, 35, 37-43, plus “The Poor People’s March” and “The Anti-War Committee March” in 20.

[23] “Assessing RNC Police Tactics, Part 1 of 2 and “Assessing RNC Police Tactics, Part 2 of 2”

Published by the Center for Investigative Reporting on 9/1-2/09, the articles critically assess tactics that police and other law enforcement officials employed before and during the RNC–based in part on a “reasonable suspicion that the [RNCWC] was conspiring to destroy property, create civil disorder, wreak havoc with bombs and engage in ‘unlawful assembly,’ all for the purposes of undermining the [RNC].” “RNC 8” protesters Erin Trimmer, Monica Bicking, Garrett Fitzgerald and Robert Czernik are mentioned. Also see 35 and the assessments in 20-21, 34, 41-42 and 48.

[24] “Lawsuits filed alleging police misconduct around the RNC”

[25] “Lawsuits filed on RNC anniversary”

Also see Elliot Hughes’ testimony in 46.

[26] “RNC legal observer sues law enforcers”

[27] See “Democracy Now! Files Lawsuit over RNC Arrests” in>.

Also see 21(6.1) and 44-45.

[28] “Federal judge throws out [Whalen] lawsuit over RNC police raid”

Also see Whalen in 23-25.

[29] “U.S. judge rejects suit over mass RNC [Shepard Road] arrests”

City of Saint Paul defense attorney Susan Tindal: “Violent protest is not protected free speech.” For Shepard Road also see “1. September 1, 2008 – Law Enforcement Intelligence and Deployment” in 20;  21(6.1); 24-25; “September 1: The Big Day” in 41 plus other articles in 41; and “Showtime” in 42.

[30] Per the mixed information in 3-5, 15-16, 21 and 31-34:

o Three anarchist protesters (Crowder, McKay and DePalma) pled to or were convicted of federal firearms (Molotov cocktail) felonies by the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

o The Ramsey County Attorney’s office in Saint Paul reviewed 75 state felony cases; 59 were dropped or dismissed; 10 pled to or were convicted of felonies; and six (five of the “RNC 8”) pled to gross misdemeanors. During the 9/1/08 “shut down” operations the felony offenders included:

Joseph Matthew Robinson who pled guilty to first-degree criminal damage to property for slashing tires of a delegate bus.

David T. Mahoney who pled guilty to second-degree assault for dropping a 50-lb. sandbag on an I-94 delegate bus route. He also directed another protester to drop a sandbag.

Crowder (above) who pled guilty to aiding and abetting terroristic threats for helping Karen M. Meissner and Christina R. Vana drop a heavy metal road sign on I-94 that nearly hit a policeman. They pled guilty to second-degree assault.

Daniel Louis Bono who was convicted for escape of custody and aiding and abetting obstruction of custody when protesters attacked the officer who arrested him for attempting to damage a bus tire. The officer was cut and bruised. The convictions were upheld on appeal.

o The Saint Paul Attorney’s office dropped or dismissed 578 misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor cases; 87 were resolved by guilty pleas, trial convictions or fee payments; and 12 have outstanding arrest warrants.

Along with the felony offenders and the “RNC 8”, many of the arrestees were supported by CRASS (Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure) which evolved from the Coldsnap Legal Collective after the convention ended. See 41-42, 48 and “About CRASS” at>.

NOTE: In order to protect RNC participants and their Constitutional rights, no search warrants and few arrests would likely have been made and no post-RNC lawsuits
would likely have been filed–if the publicly declared, anarchist-led conspiracy to “crash the convention” had not occurred.[1-2,18,20-21,23-29,34,38-46,48-50]

[31] “Austin, Texas Man [Crowder]Sentenced for Possessing Molotov Cocktails During the Republican National Convention”

“Threatening life and property in the name of a perceived cause is reprehensible regardless of the ideological influence that motivates the attackers.” Crowder also pled guilty to the state terroristic threats felony.[30]

[32] “Second Texan [McKay] gets four years in RNC plot”

Crowder’s two-year Molotov cocktail sentence was followed by McKay’s four years.

[33] “Michigan Man [DePalma] Sentenced for Possessing Molotov Cocktails”

DePalma pled guilty and received a 42-month sentence. His “plan involved entering utility tunnels near the [Xcel Energy Center] and using either Molotov cocktails or a chemical bomb to destroy electrical cables and cause a power outage. DePalma, the affidavit states, also described a related plan to use napalm-filled Molotov cocktails on the streets against police officers. Specifically, he said, ‘I will light one of those pigs on fire.'”

[34] “The Lessons of St. Paul”

Published on 10/10/08, this STRATFOR Terrorism Intelligence Report critically examines the Crowder, McKay and DePalma cases as part of the anarchist-led actions, “loosely coordinated” by the RNCWC, to “‘crash the convention’ and shut down and disrupt the RNC.” The Report also reviews the actions of law enforcement officials to prevent RNC and other event disruptions, and assesses the future of U.S. anarchist operations:

“One of the key objectives [the RNCWC] hoped to achieve from the demonstration was to gain some momentum and build the operational capabilities of the radical anarchist movement for the future. . . .

“We need folks with an alternative vision to come to the Twin Cities and turn their dreams into reality. Start something new, be creative, and come ready to build sustainable alternatives worth fighting for and defending. The new skills that we teach, learn, and put into practice here will allow us to return to our communities stronger, smarter, and more empowered.”[Also quoted in 42.]

The woeful “reality” of over 800 arrests, over 100 criminal sentences, at least 16 civil lawsuits, extensive property damage, and a discredited “peace and justice” community is a haunting legacy of those “dreams.”[2,18,20-36,50]

[35] “Domestic Terrorism – Anarchist Extremism: A Primer”

“Typically, anarchist extremists . . . show up at political conventions, economic and financial summits, environmental meetings, and the like. They usually target symbols of Western civilization that they perceive to be the root causes of all societal ills–i.e., financial corporations, government institutions, multinational companies, and law enforcement agencies. They damage and vandalize property, riot, set fires, and perpetrate small-scale bombings. Law enforcement is also concerned about anarchist extremists who may be willing to use improvised explosives devices or improvised incendiary devices. . . .

“[T]he rioting that disrupted the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle is the standard by which they measure “success”–it resulted in millions of dollars in property damage and economic loss and injuries to hundreds of law enforcement officers and bystanders. But fortunately, they haven’t been able to duplicate what happened in Seattle. . . .” Also see 1, 15-18; 20; 50; the Molotov cocktail possessions in 21(6.2) and 31-34; the federal definition of “Terrorism” in 36; and the comparative “success” of “direct actions” at Seattle, Denver, Saint Paul or other cities in 34 and 41-42.

[36] “Terrorism 2002-2005”

“Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as ‘the unlawful use of force and violence against PERSONS or PROPERTY to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives’ (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85(l)).” [Emphases added] Per that established definition the sentenced felony, gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor acts that intended to use “force and violence against PERSONS or PROPERTY” to “shut down and disrupt” the RNC were acts of criminal “terrorism”–not acts of legitimate “dissent.”[2,13-14,18,30,50]

So what appropriate pre-RNC counsel, if any, did the Minnesota chapters of the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the Coldsnap Legal Collective, or other legal advisors give to protesters on the Constitutional rights of RNC participants and the lawful, non-violent limits of dissent?[47-50] Certainly, lawsuits should be filed against law enforcement and other officials to determine if they unlawfully suppressed dissent. But they didn’t conspire to “crash the convention” and foment a “train wreck.”

[37] “Minneapolis denies permits for anti-war march at [the 2012] Democratic National Convention”

“‘We have a right to protest and if the DNC is held here we will do exactly that . . .’ states Meredith Abby, of the Anti-War Committee.” It will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Could that decision and the permits denial have resulted in part from the Committee’s collaboration with the RNCWC and its blatant 9/4/08 permit violations? See 21-22, 34, 39-41 and “The Anti-War Committee March” in 20.

[38] “March organizers failed to protect message”

Attorney and pro-immigrant activist Francisco I. Gonzalez: “Nobody can claim that the anarchists’ violence was unexpected, but still the organizers allowed them to join the marches.”

[39] “Anti-War RNC March organizer responds to critics”

In replying to Gonzalez above, Katrina Plotz (an Anti-War Committee member) confirmed the Coalition’s intent to aid and abet the use of “force and violence” to “shut down and disrupt” the RNC;[20-22] but like her “St. Paul Principles” cohorts, she contends that only police should be held “accountable” for RNC “crimes”:

“Earlier this month, someone posted an article on this website called ‘March organizers failed to protect message.'[38] As a member of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, I felt compelled to respond. . . .

“The ‘St. Paul Principles’ we established included a respect for a diversity of tactics (NOT just peaceful, legal ones) and we agreed that different tactics would be separated by time or space so that we could COMPLEMENT, rather than interfere with each other. . . .

“I and other members of the Coalition . . . stand in solidarity with all who spoke and acted against the Republican agenda in St. Paul. . . .

“Anyone professing a sincere commitment to justice should make an effort to hold police accountable for their crimes at the RNC, RATHER THAN criticize march organizers for failing to shun our fellow activists.” [Emphases added.]

Chauvinistic “solidarity” that selectively defends violence and destruction is antithetical to “peace and justice” in Saint Paul or anywhere else. Also see 2, 15-20, 22, 40-43 and 50.

[40] “RNC ’08 Report: Glossary: St. Paul Principles”

“At an anti-RNC conference held over the weekend of February 9th and 10th [2008], a broad spectrum of groups revealed what are being called the ‘St. Paul Principles’ of unity for resisting the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC). . . .

“The principles will ensure respect for the soon-to-be-permitted march on September 1 by people planning NON-PERMITTED activities, and in turn, participants in the September 1 march will adhere to the principles and do NOTHING to sow division among the many activists coming to the Twin Cities to protest the RNC. . . .

“1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a DIVERSITY of tactics and the plans of other groups.
2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a SEPARATION of time or space.
3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any PUBLIC or MEDIA denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree NOT to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.” [Emphases added.]

For further details of the described “direct actions” and other “NON-PERMITTED . . . actions and tactics” to “crash the convention,” see 1, 20, 30, 41-42 and 48. For a list of organizations who agreed to “adhere to the principles and do NOTHING to sow division,” see 22.

[41] “Going It Alone – Anarchist Action at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions”

From contrary perspectives, this report and the RNC Review Commission’s report[20] assess the results of the plans and actions to “shut down and disrupt” the RNC:

“The convention protests had limited effect primarily because of low attendance. . . . They provide a classic example of a movement learning from its mistakes too late: anarchists finally REGAINED THE INITIATIVE in the antiwar movement just as that movement breathed its last. . . .

“For years . . . mass mobilizations had been plagued by conflicts between advocates of direct action and other protesters. . . . The [RNCWC] took steps to ensure that this would NOT happen in St. Paul. . . . [T]he [RNCWC] and Unconventional Action Chicago joined a range of other groups, including the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War and the Anti-War Committee, in drafting an agreement [the “Principles”] across ideological and tactical lines. . . .

“The [RNCWC] did a brilliant job of using INDEPENDENT MEDIA to build excitement in the radical community. . . .

“Even AFTER the RNC, organizers of many stripes respected the St. Paul principles, refusing to denounce or inform on militant activists.” [Emphases added.] Also see 2, 35 and the assessments in 21, 23, 34, 48, along with the RNCWC and “TWIN CITIES INDYMEDIA” in 42.

[42] “Organizing Resistance — A retrospective on the 2008 Republican National Convention”

This “Anonymous” 9/21/08 report assesses the “gains and accomplishments” of U.S.
“anti-authoritarian resistance movements” in “Crashing” the RNC. It especially lauds the RNCWC and the “St. Paul Principles” for curtailing “Ugly debates about violence and non-violence, ‘peaceful demonstrations’ and confrontational actions, and property destruction that have long plagued resistance organizing. . . .

“The [RNCWC] opened a convergence space to act as a general headquarters for much of the organizing. . . . TWIN CITIES INDYMEDIA relaunched the area’s local Independent Media Center website, posting and reporting up-to-date minute-by-minute reports on the action. . . .

“Just after noon on Labor Day [9/1/08], the first blockades went up in sector 1. Then, static blockades, roving blockades, lockdowns, dance parties, sit-ins, all moved into place. Meanwhile a PERMITTED march of 5-10,000 was still moving through the streets. It’s unclear exactly what happened, when and when it happened but it is clear that the ‘swarm’ into place overwhelmed law enforcement. . . .” [Emphases added.]

So “violence” and “destruction” were accepted . . . and a “train wreck” resulted.[2,20,22,30,34-36,38-41,50.]

[43] “The RNC and ‘free speech’ hypocrisy”

“As a member of Veterans for Peace, the Minnesota ACLU and other ‘peace and justice’ organizations, I will not march with the [RNCWC], Students for a Democratic Society, or any other entity that intends to ‘shut down’ the RNC.” Also see 1-2, 18, 20, 22, 39 and 50.

[44] “St. Paul won’t prosecute working journalists arrested at RNC”

“Without admitting wrongdoing on the part of police, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said Friday [9/19/08] that the city won’t push the prosecution of working journalists who were picked up in mass arrests. . . . ‘This decision reflects the values we have in St. Paul to protect and promote our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press. . . .'”

[45] “Dozens of Journalists Arrested at Republican National Convention in St.

This Silha Center report reviews the excellent 9/22/08 forum “Your Credentials, Please: The Media and Law Enforcement at the RNC – What Went Wrong, What Went Right?” that I was able to attend at the University of Minnesota. Also see 2; “The Media and the SPED Security Plan” and “Media” in 20; the “videographer from New York” in 23(2 of 2); plus Amy Goodman or others in 21(6.1), 27, 44 and 46.

[46] “Cop actions top complaints at RNC listening session”

“Residents and peace activists described their frustrations with the police and security restrictions. Many demanded that authorities drop all charges against the protesters.” I sat near the speaker rostrum. Apparently adhering to the “St. Paul Principles,” no testifying “peace activist” criticized protesters’ actions. Also see 2; 18; 39-42; and “Reactions to the RNC from the Community, the Media and Business” in 20.

[47] “Attorneys prepare to defend protesters during RNC”

Per this report a primary role of the Minnesota ACLU was to protect protesters’ civil rights and defend arrestees.

[48] “We Are All Legal Workers, Legal Support at the RNC and AFTER”

Per this anarchist report the primary roles of the Coldsnap Legal Collective–which included NLG, RNCWC and other “Legal Workers”–were to aid and abet “shut down” operations, support arrested anarchists and proceed with campaigns to “pressure” law enforcement and court officials.

“For the convention, they [Coldsnap] set up shop in an office of NLG lawyers. The office included six phone lines connected to the hotline number and multiple computers sharing the central database. The hope was that occupying a legal office would protect against raids and subpoenas, due to attorney-client privilege issues. . . .

“On the third day of the convention, a day still known to many legal workers as ‘Black Wednesday’. . . affidavits in the RNC 8 case were released to the press, with a number of Coldsnap members listed as members of the [RNCWC]. . . .

“Immediately after the RNC, the remains of the [RNCWC] coalesced into the Friends of the RNC 8. . . . In January 2009, the support structure of the RNC 8 expanded to include the RNC 8 Defense Committee.” Also see 2; 19; “CRASS” in 30; “Communications” and “Media as a Weapon” in 41; plus “Twin Cities Indymedia,” “Independent Media Center” and “Cold Snap” in 42.

[49] “RNC 2008 | National Lawyers Guild Minnesota”>.

Per that web page a primary role of the Minnesota NLG was to work with Coldsnap, protect protesters’ and journalists’ civil rights, and defend anarchist or other arrestees–including the “RNC 8.”[50]

[50] “Ramsey County Charges RNC 8 Under State Patriot Act, Alleges Acts of Terrorism”

“In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee (“RNCWC”) with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. . . .

“‘These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the Defendants on trial,’ said Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. ‘The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience,’ he said.”

Per 13 and 23 the “Furtherance of Terrorism” charges were dropped. But well before 9/1/08 it was publicly obvious that many of the conspired “direct actions” to “shut down and disrupt” the RNC would not be non-violent, non-destructive acts of “civil disobedience.” See 1-2, 18, 20, 22, 30, 34-36, 38-39 and 42 along with “Tindal” in 29 and the described “direct actions.”

So it now seems clear that NLG, Coldsnap and ACLU protest clients received grossly inadequate “pre-RNC counsel . . . on the Constitutional rights of RNC participants and the lawful, non-violent limits of dissent. . . .”[36] Over two years after the resulting “train wreck” and so-called “criminalizing dissent” sentences, how many of them understand and respect those “rights” and “limits”? From what I’ve observed . . . not nearly enough. “Sadly, they and many of their defenders still seem to be operating under a Machiavellian premise that the ‘free speech’ protections of the Constitution did NOT count when so-called ‘anarchist power’ was used against RNC participants, but DID count when police power was used against RNC protesters. This is a glaring double-standard that not only perverts and distorts the rule of law, but further undermines the impartiality and credibility of our ‘peace and justice’ community.”[43]