Security forces say arrests were appropriate


“We had information about their tactics and they followed the script,” St. Paul police chief John Harrington said at a press conference Tuesday morning, referring to Monday’s clashes between police and various groups of protesters in St. Paul. He said that 283 people had been arrested.

In response to questions about how many of those arrested were local residents and how many from out of state, and how many were juveniles, Harrington said that he did not know. He said that “a large number” of those arrested refused to identify themselves, so they were booked as “John Does.”

In terms of specific offenses committed, security officials at the press conference referred to windows being smashed, to “rocks and feces thrown into the crowds of demonstrators,” to “some caltrops” (devices used to puncture tires), and to a Connecticut delegate being struck by “some kind of noxious fluids.”

Harrington said he was not aware of any peaceful protesters being teargassed, and repeated several times that officers have videotapes of criminal actions. He said that he believes pre-convention raids on activists “kept us from being hit with Molotov cocktails” and “substantially reduced” the number of caltrops.

Democracy Now host Amy Goodman asked pointed questions about the circumstances surrounding her arrest and the arrests of two Democracy Now producers, all now released from jail. Goodman is charged with obstructing a police officer and the two producers face riot-related charges.

Goodman described telling police at the scene that she had press credentials. “I had floor credentials … I told them I had credentials. A Secret Service agent came over and pulled them off and said, ‘Now you don’t.'”

Security officials responded that in a “riot situation,” they tell everyone to get out, and said, “Reporters have no right to commit crimes.”

“What crimes have they committed?” asked Goodman.

Security spokespersons responded that they could not say, as they had not seen the video.

Security operations involve officers from multiple jurisdictions. Information is handled by the Joint Information Center, and by morning press briefings at Twin Cities Public Television.