This following information if from Thursday’s Democracy Now.
Much of the “policing” being done in conjunction with the RNC is “pre-emptive”, i.e., it’s not about folks who have committed acts which are agains the law, but in anticipation of their maybe doing something. In addition to pre-emptive raids at specific houses and offices (e.g., I-Witness Video), folks were arrested in sweeps, i.e., they were arrested because they were in an area where someone might be doing something wrong — or might be going to do something wrong. For example, a young man, a local resident, was arrested because he was riding his bicycle in such a “someone might be doing or going to do something wrong” parts of town.
About 8 people of the RNC Welcoming Committee (a group helping co-ordinate activites among all manner of protest groups) have been charged with felony Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. The possible sentence for this offence is 7 years in prison. So, they did not riot, but talked about co-ordinating protest and perhaps even civil disobedience, but did not actually do anything. It is anticipated the “conspiracy” part will be used to hold them responsible for acts others might commit.
The arrests were made at 8 am on Saturday — days before the convention opened. Also, it meant that they could be held for 36 hours after start of business Tuesday — the 36 hours does not count down on weekends and holidays.
You may want to take some good long time to think about the “in Furtherance of Terrorism” part of the name of that charge.
As part of the agreement between the Convention Committee and the City of St. Paul, the first $10 million cost of defending the city against charges of false arrest, etc., will be borne by the Convention Committee.
This is all part of lessons learned from New York 4 years ago. New York arrested something like 1600 protesters — pretty wholesale arresting was going on — and NYPD and the city have had to pay out millions in the years since then. Of those 1600, the charges against about 400 had to be dropped because I-Witness Video (citizen journalists) could refute the police officers’ sworn statements against these 400 with specific video footage person-by-person.
St. Paul did a pre-emptive raid on a house in which I-Witness Video folks were staying and also raided the office they had rented. (The landlord kicked I-Witness out after the raid.) The police warrant for the house in which they were staying had the wrong address, i.e., the address next door, and the police had no warrant for the office raid. Their legal pretext for the warrantless office raid was that they got a report that either someone had been kidnapped and was being held there or that hostages were being held there.
Very slick. Very scary. Very deliberate. Up front buy-off of $10 million worth of wrongful policing.