From the Pioneer Press:
A year ago, the Ramsey County sheriff's office began looking closely at a group called the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee. ...What it found, according to an 18-page search warrant application and affidavit, led to weekend raids on two Minneapolis homes and a temporary St. Paul office for the self-described anarchist group. ...According to the document, investigation learned: The self-described anarchist group — whose main goal was to "crash" the Republican National Convention," according to its Web site — traveled to or communicated with affinity groups in 67 cities to recruit members and raise money. ...Group members discussed the possibility of kidnapping delegates, blockading bridges, using liquid sprayers filled with urine or chemicals on police and throwing marbles to trip police and their horses. ...At an "action camp" held from July 31 to Aug. 3 in Lake Geneva, Minn., one member talked of concealing inside giant puppets "materials" that could be used on the street. Others discussed the need for Molotov cocktails, paint, caltrops (devices used to puncture tires), bricks and lockboxes for protesters to lock themselves together. ...Erik Oseland, one of the six group members arrested here, produced a video called "Video Map of the St. Paul Points of Interest." It included such major companies as Travelers Insurance and Qwest, hotels such as the Embassy Suites and the Crowne Plaza. Also included: the Pioneer Press building.
The main sources for the information were "regular surveillance" of the group and three people who posed as members — two informants and an undercover investigator. The informants monitored e-mails and conversations. ...Geneva Finn of the National Lawyers Guild, which represents many of those arrested, said it was hard for her to weigh the evidence in the affidavit because "it's all based on the testimony of people who are not identified, and that's a real problem." ...Police and the Sheriff's Department characterized the anarchists as troublemakers who had come from other cities and states to disrupt the convention. ..."Yesterday, there was a group of people, not the protesters ... but a group of criminals who came here with a very express goal and intent," St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said Tuesday. "They came here to try to stop the convention, to crash the gates, to stop the buses and the delegates. ... They failed." ...Many of the people arrested during violence Monday on the convention's first day were listed in the Ramsey County Jail log as John or Jane Doe because they wouldn't disclose their real names. ...The people who did identify themselves came from at least 19 states, the jail log showed. Sheriff Bob Fletcher said most of the felony arrests were anarchists from elsewhere. ...Only one person, Vernon Alexander Rodrigues, 22, of Mt. Eden, Calif., was charged with a felony, obstruction of legal process, in Monday's protest activities. ...He made a first court appearance Tuesday afternoon, during which prosecutor Mark Hammer said Rodrigues had originally told police his name was Jesse Sparkles. Several other protesters also gave that name, Hammer said. ...Amy Goodman, host of the independent news program "Democracy Now!," questioned Harrington about why police arrested her and two of her producers. The producers had been reporting on Monday's arrests when they were swept up in the arrests themselves, she said. ...She rushed from interviews with delegates at the Xcel Energy Center when she heard the producers had been arrested and were bloodied, Goodman said. She said she asked officers why the journalists were being detained, and they arrested her. ...Goodman was cited for obstructing legal process; the producers were arrested on suspicion of felony riot. ..."What is your policy with the press?" Goodman asked Harrington. "How is the press to operate in this kind of environment?" ....Harrington said "if there's an unlawful assembly or we're in the midst of a riot," police announce loudly that people need to leave the area. ..."If reporters fail to do that, if they are in the midst of the riot, we can't protect them," he said. "It would be very difficult for us in a moment of that kind of chaos to be able to make those kind of fine distinctions." ...The ACLU and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild also criticized the police response to the protesters. ...ACLU of Minnesota Executive Director Chuck Samuelson said he believes an excessive number are being charged with serious felonies such as conspiracy to commit riot. ...Of the 284 arrests Monday, 130 were made on suspicion of felonies and 51 on gross misdemeanors. Samuelson said that in similar mass arrests during demonstrations, two-thirds are charged with misdemeanors. ...Representatives of the Welcoming Committee gave a brief statement during a Tuesday news conference in which they applauded the skirmishes downtown, but did not take credit for them. ...."We understand that it must be intimidating to see people organizing for themselves around the idea of mutual aid and solidarity, but in doing this we are actively creating the world we want to live in," said Rose DeBarr of the Welcoming Committee. ...In related action Tuesday, Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled that a group could not get literature, buttons and other protest materials released after they were seized in the weekend raids by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department. ....Albert Goins, an attorney with the Minnesota ACLU, said there was an "extremely strong" possibility Gearin's decision would be appealed to federal or state court. ...
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