Confused Reports from the Twin Cities

There was at least sporadic violence in the Twin Cities today, as well as a very very heavy police presence including herding demonstrators, firing rubber bullets, and using tear gas. That much is clear.

From reading Campaign Silo and other sources, however, I'm unable to get much of a feel from what's going on.

In particular, it's very hard to sequence disparate reports of overlapping events. I'm pretty sure that by the end of the sequence at least a small number of the demonstrators were behaving very badly — blocking streets, attacking a vehicle. It's impossible to tell whether that was their plan from the start (although in the case of Black Flag, that's what I would suspect), or whether they lost it, as mobs sometimes do, after being pushed around. Reports of the heavy police tactics came in before reports of the violence, but I'm not confident that proves anything.

At least some of these marchers had a valid permit — although they had to go to federal court to get it, as the city fought them tooth and nail. That history certainly raises the question about the extent to how professionally the police would choose to deal with the march they didn't want, although it certainly doesn't answer the question.

Suspicions are not eased by reports of journalists, videographers, and other seemingly innocent parties being detained, gassed and/or arrested.

On the other hand, people barricading streets and smashing things is what police are supposed to arrest people for, and there seems to have some of that.

This NYT report, Broken Windows and Pepper Spray Mark Protests, seems as likely to be accurate as anything when its says,

A large march, which had a permit from local authorities, got underway around 1 p.m. at the Minnesota capitol. Many in the group marched peacefully along the designated route, but not everyone wanted to follow the rules.

Near the start of the march, two women and a young man secured themselves with chains to a car that obstructed traffic.

“I would like a world of direct democracy,” said one man, who gave his name only as Alex, as he was led away by officers.

A larger group of about 200 protesters dressed in black roamed through the streets of downtown St. Paul, shouting and chanting and throwing street signs and concrete planters into the roads. Many of them wore black bandanas across their faces and some wore black balaclavas.

At one point, a police officer grabbed one of the youths. Others wrested him away, then appeared to knock the officer to the ground. On one knee, the officer released an arc of pepper spray that gushed into the air in a thick cloud.

The crowd backed off. A young man scattered bundles of nails secured with duct tape in the street. Over the next 40 minutes or so, the crowd weaved through streets, sometimes pursued or approached by police, but often eluding groups of police officers or sheriffs deputies.

Some members of the group smashed windows while others objected.

“Is this really protesting?” a young woman shouted, apparently in anger.

[Meanwhile…ABC News reports, GOP parties as Gustav rages]

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7 Responses to Confused Reports from the Twin Cities

  1. chicken_little says:

    How this is all McCain’s fault, can you please tie it together for me? Why are these people acting this way when Obama has bestowed Hope upon them? Did they miss the group cuddle?

  2. Greg says:

    This site has a good roundup of the last two days:
    http://www.slimcoincidence.com/blog/

  3. Same-ole-same-o says:

    And you’ll notice that this generally does NOT happen in reverse. GOP-ers may protest, but they generally do not form roving gangs of smelly hippies tossing urine and smashing cars every time the world isn’t as they think it should be.

  4. Steve J says:

    Michael,

    I spent way too many hours yesterday following many disparate sources: In particular the Twin Cities Indymedia LiveWire, and Coldsnap Legal on Twitter, and The Minnesota Independent.

    Especially deserving of special mention is The Uptake‘s fantastic live video coverage.

    Despite my own personal investment in informing myself about yesterday’s events, it seems difficult to communicate to you a good feel for what happened. I think I have a feel for what went down yesterday—but I don’t have a concise and informative narrative. Iow, I’ve got perspectives, but not necessarily a coherent story.

    Partially, my difficulty in communicating with you is due to my personal preference for delivering somewhat objective facts and reasoned analysis. Right there, that conflicts with the fact that above all, yesterday’s events were part of an on-going political convention: That is, all the actual facts are in many ways less important to everyone than the message and the spin.

    So, to summarize: If you like the New York Times coverage then that’s kinda, sorta ok with me. Lots of people vote for the NYT. Otoh, other people don’t think their coverage is fit to wrap a dead fish in.

  5. michael says:

    The first draft of history is always tentative. Many hours later, it seems the NYT story was OK as far as it went, but it left out some key bits, notably the unjustifiable arrests of observers and reporters (Amy Goodman and an AP photographer), and the general conduct of police — who allegedly were not only needlessly rough throwing people around, but were aggressive, intimidatory, and in some cases verbally offensive to their detainees and arrestees even after they were immobilized.

    I can’t help but wonder to what extent this sort of police smother was either planned, or at least winked at, by higher-ups. Certainly the remarks of St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington are not very encouraging.

    Incidentally, although I didn’t follow Coldsnap, I hear it is a tremendous resource.

  6. Puh-lease says:

    Oh big friggin’ deal. Someone who clearly was ignoring police orders got peppered. Poor baby. I’m sure in the end it was little more than a bad experience for her, and she’ll no doubt brag about it at her next little First Amendment outing.

    At least they didn’t murder her and her entire family, or send them off to work in a mine somewhere for 20 years, like the 64 million the Communists in China have murdered, and the untold millions that they “re-educated” to be obedient to the will of The People.

    When will the left stop comparing everyone they disagree with to their VERY OWN predecesors and mentors the Communists and the Nazis? Do you REALLY think there is any comparison of even heavy-handed police tactics in the U.S. and the stuff pulled by the left overseas, now and historically?

    Do you think that the problem was maybe not the police, but the protestors that caused things to get a little out of hand? You’ll notice that this stuff did not happen in Denver. Do you think it’s because the police were somehow more civilized there, or maybe the GOP-supporters were. And do you REALLY think these were just a bunch of calm, collected, fans of the First Amendment, quietly stating there political opinions on a public street corner, when they were suddenly and viciously brutilized by Bush’s police, or do you think something might have actually HAPPENED to escalate things?

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