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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police Target Anti-Brutality Groups Ahead Of Convention

Among the numerous reports of several politically motivated raids taking place over the weekend in Minnesota to preemptively disrupt groups planning on protesting the Republican National Convention was this story of an anti-police brutality activist who's documents were ransacked back at her home while she was detained elsewhere in one of the questionable raids.

While it's clear that at the very least Michelle Gross, of Communities United Against Police Brutality, was the victim of a burglary. But because nothing of any real value was stolen during the burglary and it was clear that documents and photographs stored in her garage and car were rifled through while she was detained at a meeting of activists planning to protest the convention, so she strongly suspects that the police did it.

Given the kinds of things police have said to me about what I do here and what they would like to do to me, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt her... and it's pretty damn frightening seeing how our civil liberties in this nation are being trampled. But, both her and her husband have both said they won't let this form of intimidation stop them from participating in the protests and documenting any police misconduct.

To add some degree of credibility to the claim that police in Minnesota are targeting police misconduct activists and reporters, police also raided the house of a journalist who was hosting members of I-Witness, a group of journalists and citizens that monitor police misconduct from New York. Police handcuffed and detained several of the reporters for hours and other journalists watched from a backyard next door while police searched through the group's documents and video equipment. In addition to that raid, police also detained two more I-Witness reporters elsewhere with no reason given for the detention.

Here was the statement issued by the I-Witness group as the raid was taking place:
IMC-US , Aug 30, 2008 @ 20:20 GMT
From: I-Witness Video

This is Eileen Clancy, one of the founders of I-Witness Video, a NYC-based video collective in St. Paul to document the policing of the protests at the Republican National Convention.

The house where I-Witness Video is staying in St. Paul has been surrounded by police. We have locked all the doors. We have been told that if we leave we will be detained. One of our people who was caught outside is being detained in handcuffs in front of the house. The police say that they are waiting to get a search warrant. More than a dozen police are wielding firearms, including one St. Paul officer with a long gun, which someone told me is an M-16.

...For those that don't know, I-Witness Video was remarkably successful in exposing police misconduct and outright perjury by police during the 2004 RNC. Out of 1800 arrests, at least 400 were overturned based solely on video evidence which contradicted sworn statements which were fabricated by police officers. It seems that the house arrest we are now under and the possible threat of the seizure of our computers and video cameras is a result of the 2004

We are asking the public to contact the office of the St. Paul mayor to stop this house arrest, gross intimidation by police officers and the detention of media activists and reporters.

- Eileen Clancy
When police are brazen enough to do something like this, to target reporters and groups that monitor police activity, you really have to start think that they plan to do some pretty brutal things to anyone who dares to protest during the convention. Both groups see this as a form of preemptive intimidation ahead of the event but still pledge to stay and document any cases of abuse or misconduct that they see. However, having now been identified by the police, I fear they will be the first targets for any brutality that the police decide to unleash next week.

...I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

UPDATED 8/31/08

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