Scenes from a raid

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Sara Coffey is a volunteer with the National Lawyers Guild (she’s not a lawyer). She’s standing handcuffed in the middle of Iglehart Street in St. Paul. The police who surrounded a home there had warned her, she says, that if she tried to leave, she would be detained.

She tried to leave.

Denis Moynihan, of the group, Democracy Now, Free Speech TV, read an e-mail from those inside the house, saying they were (are) “media activists.” Moynihan told me he was on his way to the house to pick up a colleague from a group called, Eyewitness Video, when he saw the police.

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The neighbors watched the show, as did a few dozen media activists, posting material to YouTube and various independent Web sites. Curiously, the only mainstream media at the raid were MPR and Al Jazeera. I suppose I’ve left the door open for an obvious and cliched comment.

After about an hour of waiting, police officials on the scene told the ACLU that a warrant had been signed and would soon be delivered.

Some months ago, City Pages carried a story claiming police and federal officials were looking for people to infiltrate groups coming to St. Paul to protest the Republican National Convention. The raids on the eve of the convention would suggest they had some luck in that effort.

The raids have put the protest groups on their heels. “The problem for us now is the panic this is causing around the area,” one organizer told me. “Phones are ringing everywhere, saying ‘the police are coming.’”