‘We are numb to war’: brother of young woman arrested in preemptive raids speaks out

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Police would like to to paint 23-year-old Monica Bicking, whose home was raided on Saturday, August 30, as part of a preemptive strike against RNC protesters, as a “terrorist.” But her brother, Ian Bicking, has come out to speak in support of his sister, whom he says was arrested in an attempt to preemptively suppress the protests at the Republican National Convention.

“That war is still with us,” he writes on his blog, “and is still the most significant motivation for the RNC protests…I don’t have any third path to offer, but I just want to make it clear: none of us know what is best to do, none of us have figured out the way to effect change. People complain protest doesn’t work. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but frankly most things don’t work. Doing nothing definitely doesn’t work, and frankly that’s what most of us are doing. It’s hard to take criticisms seriously when they are made from a stance of inaction.”

In Monica Bicking’s South Minneapolis home, where are least 13 people were staying for the RNC, the police seized, among typical household items and laptop computers, curtain rods, foam mattresses, “propaganda literature,” 37 caltrops (nail-like devices used to puncture tires), and a few throwing knives. A total of three homes in Minneapolis were raided (and a fourth surrounded in St. Paul) the morning after the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, supported by the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, raided the RNC Welcoming Committee’s convergence space in St. Paul.

The raids resulted in five arrests and more than 100 people handcuffed and detained. Last week, Ramsey County formally charged eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committte, Bicking, her boyfriend Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, with conspiracy to riot in futherance of terrorism.

The word “terrorism,” at least by definition, is fairly innocuous: “The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Under that definition, any government could be a terrorist. But after 9/11, the media and Bush administration gave it a much more frightful and sinister meaning, one that led to the creation of the Federal Patriot Act. It’s under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act that Bicking and others could receive as much as seven years in jail simply for having “evidence” in their homes. The terrorism enhancement charge allows for a 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty for conspiracy to riot.

Ian Bicking says Monica and others in the RNC Welcoming Committee had no plans of their own to protest during those four days, but to offer a safe place for those who wished to protest their own issues, whatever they might be. “The preemptive arrest was surprising to everyone,” he writes. “It is normal in the course of civil disobedience that some people expect to be arrested. Civil disobedience is confrontational. You have to go into it knowing that there will be certain consequences. Those are the consequences of the confrontation [his emphasis]. They are not the consequences of the possibility of future confrontation. As organizers I know Monica and Eryn weren’t planning on being arrested.”