Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

(Nod to FutureJacked and Glenn Greenwald)

Utilizing a municipal police force to stem political dissent relegates that municipal police to a para-military arm with a method replacing rule of force for the original promise of protection and service. Via the NYTimes:

On Friday night the Ramsey County sheriff's department, accompanied by the St. Paul police, detained people inside a building here that was being used as a headquarters to plan protests.

“They handcuffed all of us,” said Sonia Silbert, 28, from Washington. “They searched everyone.”

People who had been in the building said that officers entered shortly after 8:30 p.m. with a warrant and instructed them to lie on the ground, adding that they had been questioned and photographed before being released.

Jordan Kushner, a member of the National Lawyers Guild, said the two-story brick building had been rented by a nonprofit organization and was being used by several groups planning protests.
I'm not going to suggest (though others might) that the RNC had a direct role in this political crackdown. I will suggest that such unbelievably transparent measures and reason for barging into American citizens homes are nothing more than simple low level tyranny hiding behind benign municipal violations (fire codes and such.) Whether this obvious violation of American ideals is motivated by political measures (I suspect it isn't) or by a want for a convenient path to minimize expense, both fiscally and logistically (I suspect it is) it's a sad prelude to a convention for those that claim the Jeffersonian title, "Republican."


Anonymous said...

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic Twittered yesterday that it was a few anarchists who had hijacked peaceful protests.

That's par for the course these days isn't it? I don't agree or support the police decisions here, but I can see why they would do so. These anarchists (who tried the same in Denver and NYC in '04) are serious about raising havoc and leaving a wake of small-scale nuisance destruction in their path.

Mike said...

Worth noting that the same exact type of crap goes on at the DNC. It's less about political parties and more about the increase in police militarism in this country.

Adrian said...

Reading/watching what Glenn Greenwald has been posting on is really interesting. Sure you might never agree with a thing Greenwald writes, but it's still hard to explain why cops are raiding a hippie house filled with 18 yr old vegans while wearing flak jackets and wielding M4s and MP5s and refusing to show a warrant until the raid is over. And why was Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now) arrested and manhandled for asking a cop why her reporter was arrested? People need to be fired at the very least, and if I was Amy Goodman I'd sue someone's ass off.

At the DNC there actually was a threat, those meth-heads claiming they were going to assassinate Obama. At the RNC the threat is what, some hippies might go naked as protest? Sure there are anarchists but its hard to confuse masked anarchists throwing feces with the people that were raided on the videos at

Mike said...

I can't help but be amused at Greenwald's indignant tone. Is he actually surprised about these tactics? I mean, maybe I should be a little more explicit. When I said in my last post that this is less about political parties and more about the increase in police militarism, what I meant to imply was that this crap has been going on for years and years...exhibit A, the RNC in '04, where the NYPD decided to suspend Habeas corpus for the duration of the convention and jail hundreds of people without charging them with anything, including people who weren't even protesting (just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time). Exhibit B, every single SWAT raid in the name of preventing Americans from getting high.

As for the DNC, the police tactics there had 0 to do with the death threats on Obama. There are ways to protect a principal while still preserving an air of openness...and then there's the tactics used at the DNC, which were intended to openly intimidate everyone. Completely different message.

Maybe I'm just too jaded from following this stuff for too long, but SWAT raids with intent to intimidate and wrongful arrest don't really surprise me anymore. Just part of the price in living America, I guess.

Don't mistake my cynicism for approval...just an understanding that the chances of getting this changed are about nil, due mainly to the fact that most Americans at least tacitly approve of such tactics.

*gets off soapbox*

Adrian said...

Greenwald's always indignant about things that he recognizes are commonplace. It's useful to remind yourself that "hey, this shouldn't be normal."

I didn't see any stuff like this (the raids, not the general heavy-handedness) about the DNC, got any links? I remember there was a lot of stuff at the 04 RNC too though.

ortho said...

We inhabit a permanent "state of exception" where freedom is suspended to be preserved.

Jay@Soob said...

"We inhabit a permanent "state of exception" where freedom is suspended to be preserved."

Yep. Save the Holy Grail even if you have to break every sacrament it represents. We're not quite there yet, but our direction is troubled.

The Red Son said...

Even in good ol' USA, there is not true freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Remember when "designated protest zones" were a new infringement on our constitutional rights? Now they are common place. The second amendment is supposed to protect us from this type of tyranny. Freedom is slavery.

Dick Stanley said...

Y'all are forgetting the news stories about the RNC protesters who were planning to kidnap delegates, and how delegate buses now carry armed police. Obviously the cops see something to the threats. Might be simpler to see what happened here in that light, but I supposed that wouldn't add to the fear-mongering against the cops. The National Lawyers Guild, BTW, is a Lefty outfit long associated with public disturbances, including riots. Not surprising to see the NYTimes getting outraged for them, their old comrades.

The Red Son said...

Hey dick,
Even if there were actual plots to kidnap delegates, how does that justify the detention of journalists and peaceful political organizers?

Mike said...

No links Adrian, I thought I had read something about that on a few of the libertarian blogs I frequent (Radley Balko, Reason, etc.) but I must have been mistaken. The raids appear to be unique to the RNC, although as you said the heavy handedness definitely was not.