Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police State America

[The image above, of course, is of the Pentagon Protest in 1969... or was it 1967? One loses track...]

Here is a very recent example of many examples of The American Police State in action.

Police break down doors in night-time raid on anarchist meeting

From: The Twin Cities Daily Planet

And so it goes.

According to the story, the Ramsay County Sherrif's Department and the St. Paul Police Department "executed a search warrant" -- ie: broke into a Downtown St. Paul building rented by the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist group -- around 9:45pm last night, with guns drawn, detained fifty or more people who were inside the building at the time for questioning, throwing them on the floor, handcuffing them, demanding they identify themselves, photographed them and released them. Then they cleared the building of all non-police personnel, confiscated literature and other materials, and had the building boarded up.

It is assumed the search warrant -- which claimed there were Molotov cocktails and other items in the building intended for violence at a demonstration planned on Monday to protest the RNC Convention -- was issued pursuant to a tip by a police informant and/or other infiltrator into the group. Whether any such materiel has been found has not been revealed, but we can confident that if any was found, it was planted by the police or one of their informants. Unfortunately, police departments throughout the country have a wretched reputation for just such planting of evidence, and to assume they would not do so in this case is a stretch.

Which is not to say that our anarchist friends weren't up to some mischief. They have an unfortunate reputation as well, although in many cases -- for example, the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999 which became the trigger for many of the intense police repression actions since then -- the violence and acting out attributed to anarchists is claimed (by witnesses as well as some of the anarchists) to be the work of provocateurs who were assumed to be working for or part of the police forces themselves.

Alert individuals have noted that this action in St. Paul, coming just before the Republican National Convention (if it happens, hurricanes permitting) was intended to intimidate and coerce potential protesters in the city. It has been estimated that as many as fifty thousand people will show up to protest the Republicans and their bloody misrule these many years, and for reasons that will be left up to history, the Authorities have an overriding interest in stopping or interfering with any sort of "leftist" or "anarchist" protest movement in this country at all. They simply cannot abide such things, as we saw in Denver when a relatively small group of protesters was gassed and peppersprayed and arrested en masse by newly uniformed and militarized police forces needing something to do since the massive protests predicted failed to materialize.

This sort of suppression of (leftish) free speech and assembly rights has been going on in this country routinely for a decade, and sporadically well before that. There is and has been almost no interest by the Authorities in suppressing wingnuttery and right wing protest demonstrations. A curiosity, to say the least.

The police have fired on numerous demonstrations, using "non-lethal" weapons, "bean bags," rubber bullets, wooden dowels fired from guns, pepper spray, and various gasses, and they have bludgeoned, run down, assaulted and mass arrested tens of thousands of demonstrators and bystanders alike. They have close links with the military and have routinely spied upon and infiltrated anti-war and anti-corporatist gatherings and protest events, spied upon and infiltrated church groups and social organizations for the elderly, often lying about it even when it is obvious what they have been doing.

Raids such as the one in St. Paul last night are not uncommon, and though there was immidiate contact with lawyers (NLG), according to the story, and there have been many successful past suits of police departments and city, county and state authorities which sponsor these sorts of actions, resulting in millions and millions of dollars in awards to plaintiffs for police violations of civil rights, yet the raids and violations continue without let up. If anything they intensify.

One wonders why the People don't rise up. Well, this is one reason why. They have been intimidated.

A question, however, is why are Americans so easily intimidated by police tactics such as this while peoples in democracies all over the world are not?

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