RNC civil rights suits filed in St. Paul


Mike Whalen and reporters sit, handcuffed, in his backyard. (Photos by Mary Turck)

Eight people filed lawsuits in federal court in St. Paul February 26, suing the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Ramsey County, and about two dozen named police officers and several other officers yet to be identified for violation of civil rights immediately before and during the Republican National Convention (RNC).

Describing the charges in the lawsuits, attorney Ted Dooley said “you get to the point … where you want to punch a wall or something. There’s this ongoing sense of having been dreadfully violated, whether it’s the molestation that Michelle [Gross] was subjected to, the overwhelming force on Wendy Binion, who’s just a little bug of a thing, 95 pounds, to Whalen, whose home was invaded.”

Today’s lawsuits:

Wendy Binion was arrested while filming the Poor People’s Campaign demonstration in Mears Park for Portland IndyMedia on September 2. (See video of Mears Park arrests. Rebecca Sang and Jason Johnson are also suing for their arrests at that time. Johnson is shown in the video, on the ground, being tasered by police.

Mick Kelly was arrested on September 4, the final day of the RNC, after being shot in the stomach with a less-than-lethal “marking round.” The St. Paul city attorney has decided that more than 300 arrests from that day do not meet the standard for prosecution on misdemeanor charges, but Kelly has not been notified of whether or not his charges were among those dismissed.

Vlad Teichberg and Olivia Katz are members of the Glass Bead Collective. They were detained in Northeast Minneapolis the week before the RNC, and police seized their notes, cameras, cell phones and computers, which contained notes of their reporting and contacts for reporting on demonstrations during the RNC. (See Homeland insecurity in the Twin Cities and related video.) They were not charged.

Michelle Gross is suing for violation of her civil rights when she was searched during a police raid on the RNC Welcoming Center Convergence Center on Friday, August 29.

Mike Whalen’s St. Paul home was surrounded, entered and searched by police on August 30, the Saturday before the RNC. His duplex was targeted because the part he does not live in was rented to I-Witness Video journalists, who came to report on the RNC. (See Journalists targeted by FBI in St. Paul and related video.

“Michael is a St. Paul boy,” said Dooley, recallling that Whalen used to tell people that they should move to St. Paul, where there were good police.

“For the love of Christ,” continued Dooley, “I go out on the streets. I expect there are police officers, and I’m glad there are police officers and I like them. For the normal things that police do, they are pretty good . … To see it perverted for this kind of stuff, it makes me sick. It’s part of this homeland police force the feds have been after, and Fletcher bought into it, and Chris Coleman bought into it. and Pawlenty bought into it …. It’s very sad, it’s sad for the men and women who go into those professions wanting to help and to do good.”