Live-blogging: The last protest

day4poster.jpgIt’s going to be an interesting evening. The last protest of the RNC is starting at 4. You may recall — if you’re a regular News Cut reader — this is the one that organizers said would be the “more militant” protest, as opposed to the family-friendly one on Monday. “If people are wondering about Day 4, is it going to be safe, is it going to be OK to bring their families, we would say ‘yes.’ I think the more the better,” the organizers said five or six weeks ago. We’ll just see.

3:11 p.m. – The situation is, basically, shutting downtown St. Paul businesses. Caribou Coffee in Town Square brings us a pot of coffee because “it’s going to be a long night.” Besides, they don’t need it; they say they’ve been told to close down. MPR sends non-newsroom people home.

3:17 p.m. – The people who are in line for the Daily Show have disappeared.

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In the last two days, the people aren’t let in until 5:30. Either the Daily Show is recording tonight’s show early, or they want people off the street. The answer to that — as with everything about The Daily Show — is a matter of national security.

3:44 p.m. A “Kinko’s journalist” (Has laminated credentials that aren’t real press credentials) arrives, and appears to have broken every rule in the book about covering protests/riots.

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3:46 p.m. Ramsey County announces it’s closed the Juvenile Justice Center on West Seventh Street and the Public Health Clinic on Cedar in St. Paul because of the pending protest march.

4:26 p.m. – The left-hand-right-hand department — Says the Joint Information Center:


Law enforcement officials in charge of security and public safety operations associated with the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul are dismissing as untrue reports that they requested offices in downtown Saint Paul to close early.

4:54 p.m. Who keeps all those police bicycles in shape and what’s it like to be a bike cop? MPR’s Michael Wells has the answer:

4:58 p.m. Police have told organizers they have to be finished by 5 p.m. (MPR)

5:04 p.m. Most marchers are heading toward John Ireland Blvd., on Rice. A separate group is attempting to go down Cedar Ave. Some arrests are being made. (KARE 11).

5:05 p.m. St. Paul officers on horseback are blocking John Ireland Blvd. (WCCO)

5:11 p.m. Via Twitter @TheInDecider (Daily Show – Michael Kraskin and Dennis DiClaudio) reports march is now a sit-in.

5:21 p.m. – Live video (via cellcam) of the situation.

5:26 p.m. – MPR’s Sea Stachura has sent this image of the standoff:

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MPR’s Steve Mullis says, “Cops on Capitol side of John Ireland Blvd., protesters on the Cathedral side. Chanting loudly. Police are not amused.”

5:28 p.m. – MPR’s Tom Crann is interviewing the owner of Mickey’s Diner. Flashback to Monday night:

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“It didn’t affect us at all,” Melissa Matson said. “There were customers who came in right before and we didn’t realize they hadn’t been served so we were very apologetic.” She says regulars are starting to show up again.

5:32 p.m. Steve Mullis’ has sent this image:

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5:39 p.m. – Nobody’s making a move.

6:01 p.m. – Joint Press Information Center just issued this release:

Law enforcement officials in charge of security and public safety operations associated with the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an apparent assault victim and suspected rioters.

Officials would like to speak with the apparent victim of an assault that occurred on Monday in Saint Paul. Law enforcement officials are also interested in speaking with individuals seen attacking the victim.

Law enforcement is also asking for the public’s assistance in a separate case (see attached bulletin). Officials believe this individual is responsible for breaking windows at the 1st National Bank building on Monday, September 1 in Saint Paul. Anyone who can identify him is asked to contact police.

People with information about any of the individuals in the photos are asked to call the Saint Paul Police Department at 651-291-1111

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6:09 p.m. – via Twitter @TheIndecider says people are leaving. Would they give up that easy. Looks to me like the police have fortified Cedar at I-94 bridge. The strategy seems clear: Keep ‘em on the other side of I-94. So far it’s working, easily. The police only need to guard two bridges rather than try to corral protesters throughout an entire downtown as they had to do on Monday.

6:14 p.m. – Police have “retaken” the John Ireland bridge. A small handful of protesters have linked arms.

6:18 p.m. – A line of blue is up around the front of the Capitol. Both main bridges to downtown are clogged with police. The only way this thing gets seriously out of hand is if the few people on the south side of I-94 (who are watching) turn out to be the “anarchists.” That doesn’t seem likely.

6:23 p.m. – More police have been added to the Cedar St. bridge. Dumptrucks have been moved across the road on the south side of the bridge.

6:37 p.m. – Here’s the picture I shot a few minutes ago. Police have reinforced the bridge.

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As I shot this, an officer said, “Sir, you have to move back across the street.” Yes, I had my press credentials and , no, I hadn’t crossed the police line. But — and this is the first chance I’ve had to use this as a verb — I decided not to “Amy Goodman” the situation.

Why don’t the protesters move to the next bridge at Minnesota?

Because these people are waiting…

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And, besides, there’s no way for the protesters to get there. 12th Street is blocked and the parking garage and armory provide a barricade.

Snowplows have been mounted on city trucks and filled with sand. They’re being moved in to reinforce things on Cedar:

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As more police move up from downtown…

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How long can this last? The police didn’t take the bait, didn’t move in on the protesters, and clearly are trying to avoid a confrontation. John McCain speaks in an hour or so, then leaves, and when everyone is gone, and the 10 p.m. news is over, the police can squeeze whatever protesters are left.

6:52 p.m. – Here’s a map of how police succeeded in isolating the protesters from downtown, and the Excel Center.

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For those following who are not in St. Paul, the yellow interstate is about 30 feet down from the surface streets where everyone is positioned.

7:20 p.m. Via David Brauer (via Twitter) – City Pages reporter among those pepper sprayed. Their report says they had both followed orders to lie on the ground. Then they were maced.

7:28 p.m. – A woman was just maced and taken away. MPR’s Steve Mullis says police are making small advances to get people to scatter and thin out the crowd, and then surrounding those who stay behind, and arresting them.

7:43 p.m. – Part 2 of the bike cops video. Kudos to Michael Wells, Bo Hakala and Anna Weggle

7:51 p.m. - Flickr photostream of this afternoon/evening’s events.

7:54 p.m. Via Twitter, The InDecider says a police car window was smashed.

7:58 p.m. – 12 arrests, according to the Pioneer Press. Additional images. Here.

8:02 p.m. MPR’s Steve Mullis (via Twitter), “Cops respected press credentials and let us break the line” to return to the downtown section of the city.

8:18 p.m. – Protesters are pretty much broken up. Some tried to get over the bridge at Marion but failed. Police shot flashbangs. Protesters are in small groups and are unlikely to reform — or be allowed to reform. My son — who works here — has just returned and says all of the people he saw get pepper-sprayed by police had just failed to obey an order.

8:29 p.m. – Total arrests will be over 100. We may yet hit the 800 prediction from Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

This thing is over.

Submitted photo:

From Jessica Vogt : “Anti-war protest. Police stop protesters at the John Ireland Blvd. bridge. The crowd gathers.”

contributed_photo.jpg

  • http://www.trailblz.com brian hanf

    Been to St paul everyday, Mon-Wed, so far not seen the slightest thing to make me nervous, nor have the delegates I have been with.

    I think this is just more Left Wing Reporting by Left Wing MPR :) J/K

    I am not going tonight, gave my pass to friend who wants to see the “show”.

  • Bob Collins

    Brian: I walked along the part where the delegate busses come in. I can’t imagine any possibility of the delegates seeing anything… period.

  • Ellen

    So….. slow going here. Did the blogger get arrested for inciting terrorism or is it just that nothing’s happening?

  • Joel Calhoun

    Do you think Google Maps Traffic takes riots into account? I have to drive through downtown on my way home from work on my motorcycle and would prefer to avoid things like tear gas and rubber bullets.

  • Deb in St. Paul

    Well, I guess I was right to take the bus home early today since the attempted march/sit in appears to be happening on or near my bus route. Hah.

  • Ellen

    Meh. At least crack a few jokes because this live-blog is DYING here. Can you juggle? Take a photo of the fattest bicycle police.

    Something. Anything!

  • Bob Collins

    It’s all take…take…take with you isn’t it, Ellen? (g)

  • Ellen

    I just wanted some quality entertainment, Rob. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for. If the bloggers can’t be amusing perhaps they could compell some protesters to make a dash for the police lines. Purely for our viewing enjoyment. Minnesota Public Radio, you need to hire some better talent!

  • Ellen

    (I mean BOB. The screen clipped the letters. I blame that on Minnesota Public Radio too).

  • Deb in St. Paul

    Could it be that the peaceful protesters actually decided to be peaceful?

    We’ll have to start blogging about the NFL football game instead.

  • Deb in St. Paul

    The police and the demonstrators both appear to be restraining themselves. At least for now. Good. Because one of my journalist friends is down there covering this and I wouldn’t want her to be “Amy Goodmaned.”

  • Bob Collins

    The entertainment from me is on my Twitter account. And I don’t give that out to just anybody.

    Here, it’s just the facts (it’s a special day).

  • Bob Collins

    Deb:

    This is the group that promised a “militant” gathering. Militant by its definition is not peaceful.

    That said, the Minnesota Peace Team is doing an outstanding job of keeping people cool and advising them properly to avoid a non-peaceful confrontation. They deserve significant credit. They walked the talk.

  • Keri

    So there are a whole lot of protesters sitting on the John Ireland Bridge now… Will there be more updates here? Please? :)

  • Bob Collins

    Still here.

  • Deb in St. Paul

    Oh, I didn’t know this group had advertised themselves as militant. However, those Suffragettes were kinda militant in their day, weren’t they?

  • Bob Collins

    It was one of the stranger news conferences (which I wrote about here). At the time, it appeared that they didn’t know themselves what they meant by militant.

  • Deb in St. Paul

    Oops, I finally clicked on the link for “more militant.” Sounds like they haven’t learned how to “hold message” like the Republicans can yet, since they seemed to be confused about how militant this march might be.

  • Ellen

    Ahem, sorry Mr. Collins. I didn’t notice that you are indeed the dull blogger himself. I thought you were just a poster. My apologies. Peraps there will be more excitement later.

  • Christa

    The Suffragettes were peaceable, which was “bad enough” for a woman in those days. The VIOLENT women were the Temperence Movement.

  • Bob Collins

    No big deal, Ellen. My first wife told me I was boring… 30 years ago.

    I was almost over it… until today.

    But don’t worry too much about it. I can sleep fine in the fetal position on the newsroom floor. (g)

  • Mrs. Newscut

    Boring as with many adjectives it only how the other person interprets things. Frankly, I have found this coverage to be refreshing and different from those who are covering the staged crap at the convention site as I did the Denver Coverage. Behind the scenes is fascinating, and Mr. Newscut is far from boring, unless you are looking for pictures of folk smashing windows in the name of freedom or peace. If someone could intelligently explain how violence leads to positive solutions to me, I will feel at least more educated than I was when these two conventions went back to back. For those of you who can actually use intelligent thought to assess the positions beyond your own views, you might be open to looking at things from more than one perspective. A difficult task, yet allows for better discourse. YAWN

  • Susan Herridge

    Bob, Ellen

    Your back and forth gave me my first big laugh of the day. Bob, I don’t think you’re boring, not at all. My 17 year old son is in the protest group somewhere, so I’m hanging on every word. Ellen, if you want blood, go watch Sarah Palin field dress a moose.

  • Bob Collins

    Oh sure, Susan, NOW you you tell me this. Where the heck were you 30 years ago? Before all those co-pays?

    Seriously, my son — who’s 23 but about whom his father will worry like he’s a 5 year old until the day I die — just came back in the newsroom. I didn’t know he was over there. “I just like to dispassionately watch things,” he said.

    That’s my boy! But it’s just as well I don’t know these things.

  • Deb in St. Paul

    I hope your boy stays safe Bob & Susan!

  • Ellen

    I didn’t really want anyone to get hurt. Well, maybe if they maced an old lady with an apricot poodle that would have been fun. But I have kids too and I’m glad that all you newsfolk were there. I’m sure the idea of bad press helped restain the police. I’m glad your son’s fine and perhaps you could learn some card tricks to amuse your wife.

  • http://erikhare.wordpress.com/ Erik Hare

    It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon …

    I think it’s all finally over with that one last poorly played movement of troops.

    You have to take the long view on all of this stuff if you’re ever going to make sense of the world. 60 days to the election may not seem like a long time, but everything will change. It will all settle down. These protests? We will have largely forgotten them by that day.

    Look how long it took people to get angry about the Iraq War in the first place. The first six months to a year were nothing but flag-waving parades. Then, the body count sunk in. That’s how things really work.

    To be ahead of the curve means that you have to NOT be plugged into what’s happening because it’s too much noise to make sense of. We all should learn how to take a strong half-step back. Be in it, sure, but have some perspective.

    99% of what happened in Saint Paul this week was crap. Figure out what the 1% or so was, and you’re one smart guy.

  • Susan Herridge

    Yep, my son Kit is fine. He just called and said his friends both got maced but he and his girlfriend did not and they’re taking the University Ave. bus to a point where I can pick them up. (If I can wend my way through the snowplows, trucks and sundry other St. Paul heavy equipment). My other son Ben’s picture is on the MPR web site.. he marched with the high school kids this afternoon. Said it was perfectly peaceful and the police were smiling and talking to him.

  • Bob Collins

    //99% of what happened in Saint Paul this week was crap. Figure out what the 1% or so was, and you’re one smart guy.

    I wish I’d written that.

  • Susan Herridge

    well, I spoke too soon. My son and his girlfriend are here now, but she was roughed up. She said that she was sitting on the ground more or less by herself, and the police, saying nothing, approached her. She scooted back to get out of their way, but apparently not to their satisfaction. They began to hit and kick her. She weighs about 98 lbs, wet. Some other protesters pulled her out of harms way, but it was captured on video by DemocracyNow and she got the number of the police officer who assaulted her. so perhaps we’ll be part of the lengthy court process that you outline elsewhere on this site.

  • Brian Dewhirst

    As I shot this, an officer said, “Sir, you have to move back across the street.” Yes, I had my press credentials and , no, I hadn’t crossed the police line. But — and this is the first chance I’ve had to use this as a verb — I decided not to “Amy Goodman” the situation.

    Shame on you for belittling the situation.

  • JSmith

    When the police tell you to do something you do it, and do it immediately. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your credentials. If you watch the videos of Goodman and her producers they did not do this.

    They were treated roughly, yes, but then again it was a tense situation and they didn’t follow orders.

    The time to complain is in the few instances where it seemed police arrested people they’d already given a pass.

  • Adam

    My girlfriend and I came over from Minneapolis after work last nigt to observe the “militant” protest. We parked by the Cathedral and walked down to the intersection of John Ireland and Kellogg Blvd (by the True Blue Minnesota billboard). After the dump trucks pulled up to bridge we decided to move to other side of I-94 via the Marion St Bridge to get a better view. We cut across the Sears parking lot to the state office building parking lot at Rice and John Ireland to watch the protest.

    After 15–20 minutes of observing the stand still (and becoming slightly bored) we decided to head over to the Capitol Grounds to check out the art and monuments. A few minutes later (7:41 according to the timestamp on my camera), a larger group of marches appeared to the east-northeast side of the Capitol (via Ceder or MLK direction). As the marchers turned onto John Ireland Blvd the automatic sprinkler system activated (scheduled activation or not, it provided some comic relief to the situation).

    10 minutes later the lady and I decided it was time to go home. Reading reports of downtown bridges being blocked off we headed towards University to find a route back to our car parked on Selby by the Cathedral. At 7:55 we were crossing at the corner of John Ireland and MLK as a stream of cop cars came down MLK onto John Ireland from University.

    As I analyzed the situation by reading twitter streams from some the activists and alt media to find the best route away from the mayhem a Saint Paul Police van pulled up to drop off a couple of delegates or special guests (not really sure why at that corner during all this). As they were unloading I asked the officer what the best route to get back to my car would be. She told me to hold on a second. Expecting to get blown-off or told to “just get out” as others were reporting, I was shocked when she told us hop in and she would give us a ride back to our car.

    After weaving our way around police blockades and protesters we able to get back to our car via the Western Ave bridge. It was interesting ride back, with the police radio providing an inside view into the law enforcement strategy, and the discussion we had with the officer about RNC economics, protesting, and her escorting of delegates to the MOA (Someone had left their Victoria Secrets bag in the van which the officer jokingly told us that it wasn’t hers).

    After a night of excitement in St Paul, like many of our special guest have all week, we headed back to Minneapolis for dinner.

  • Bob Collins

    Great account, Adam. Thanks for sharing!

  • Elizabeth T.

    boring or not …

    this is why I give money to MPR.

  • http://twitter.com/bwaybaby Ryan

    I do always enjoy your live-blogs, Bob, even though I usually don’t get to them ’til days after the events. This one was interesting; I have a couple of friends who decided to take their lives into their hands and actually cross into Ramsey County that afternoon to either watch or participate in the protest–they hadn’t really decided. From what I understand, they got bored (and probably justifiably concerned with their physical safety) and bailed just before things got über-tense, but it’s interesting to hear a more objective account of the events. Your reporting is very well-balanced, and you resist the temptation to espouse knee-jerk opinions, whether left or right, and those are increasingly rare qualities in today’s media (whether MSM or blogosphere). Posts like this remind me of why I look forward to News Cut articles popping up in my RSS reader every day.

  • Dann Dobson

    I am totally outraged by the comment posted at 8:18.

    ” My son — who works here — has just returned and says all of the people he saw get pepper-sprayed by police had just failed to obey an order.”

    I was present as a clearly identified legal observer, as I had been the previous 6 days. I was 3 blocks from the Marion Street Bridge, at Marion and Aurora, and far from the protesters when the police started firing their tear gas and flash bang grenades.

    The police were firing totally indiscriminately and appeared to be completely out of control. Over 18 journalists were arrested, 5 or 6 legal observers and customers who were either leaving, or were pushed out of the Sears store.

    I was told one little old couple, who had been shopping at Sears, were forced onto the Marion Street Bridge, and arrested with all the others when they merely asked a police officer how to get out.

    The only reason I was not arrested, along with my observer partner, was that I knew the neighborhood, and we fled to the west, the only way the police had not sealed off.

    When the arrests commenced, I saw virtually no illegal activity of any kind. The vast majority of the people arrested were not doing anything wrong, other than being present. The police reaction was totally out of proportion to anything illegal that might have occurred, which I did not see.

    There needs to be a through complete independent investigation into the police conduct during the RNC. The police need to answer and be held responsible for the numerous violations of civil rights and liberties which I witnessed during the RNC.

    Dann Dobson

    Saint Paul