Protest groups decry raids, but refuse to answer reporters’ questions


The self-styled “anarchists” in St. Paul are positively organized when it comes to stonewalling the media.

A coalition of groups held a news conference at Harriet Island this morning, to protest the raid of their office on Smith Ave., in St. Paul, and several other houses in the metro.

After a series of speeches detailing various allegations against police, I asked a speaker if there was any evidence that law enforcement had infiltrated their organizations.

“Absolutely,” said Cheri Honkala, who says she’s from Minnesota. She then detailed already-well-documented evidence about infiltrations in 2004. New York spied broadly on the groups well in advance of the Republican convention in New York, the New York Times reported.

“That was 2004, I’m asking about 2008,” I said.

As one member of the coalition tried to answer a question, the leader of the group cut him off and announced “The Welcoming Committee will not be answering questions.”

Just prior to that Honkala made an impassioned speech about the importance of the news media in covering a story.

update 2:53 p.m.

A news release from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office says these items were confiscated during the raid in St. Paul:

Materials used in creating “sleeping dragons” (pvc pipe, chicken wire, duct tape)

Large amounts of urine (including 3 – 5 gallon buckets of urine)

Wrist Rockets

Assorted edged weapons including a machete, hatchet and several throwing knives

Gas mask and filter

Empty glass bottles


Flammable liquids

Homemade Caltrops (devises used to disable buses in roads)

Metal pipes


Bolt cutters

Sledge hammers

Old tires (for burning)

Repelling equipment

Kryptonite locks

Empty plastic buckets cut and made into shields

Material for protective padding

An army helmet

  • sheriff fletch

    So where are the pics of the URINE?

    where are the warrents?

    where are the weapons? (Kryptonite locks? I thought that

    was for bikes)

    Look for Republican paramilitaries (Ramsey Co, Anoka Co deputies) to act as provocateurs

    and get the street grunts ( DFL paramilitary stpaul-mpls city police, Henn. Co sheriff) to respond violently to unarmed demonstrators.

    What a master stroke: Fletcher will make the DFL paramilitaries

    look bad and the Republicans will be laughing all the way to


  • John

    Cheri Honkala is known for her already-well-documented work on behalf of the homeless and poor in Philadelphia. A quick Google search yields her bio (she is originally from Minnesota) and the website of the organization she represents:

    I personally respect her courage and tenacity.

    The so-called coalition seems to me to be a pretty loose one based on the necessity of joining together against what might be starting to seem like a heavy-handed supression of dissent not too unlike that of the Chinese govt. at the Olympics. That a few may have gone too far with things does not necessarily discredit any and all potential protesters.

  • Easy E

    Minus the plastic buckets cut into shields, caltrops and the large amount of urine; I have all of that stuff in my house. Does that mean they can raid my house too?

    Is it okay to have this stuff in your house, or does that make you a suspect?

    If the cops went into your house, they could find any number of things that could make YOU look like a terrorist. Just look at this list.

  • noen

    There was no urine. And they don’t talk to media because you are despised by many, but I bet you can’t figure out why can you?

  • gravel kucinich paul nader

    They fear Cindy, mom of dead vet.

    They fear vets.

    They fear unity…


    fear neocons fear

    nader paul kucinich gravel

    mckinney ventura too

    perot charts


  • sc

    Lawyers explained the buckets of unidentified liquid as gray water used to conserve water when flushing toilets.

  • Bob Collins

    Which means there is another side to the story. The truth? Stay tuned.

  • Juan Medium Moose

    Interesting to contrast the Sheriff’s story, as presented by MPR, against local reporting: [TC Daily Planet via TruthOut].

  • george W. Bush

    Minn. Public Radio,

    It’s nice to know at least some of you NPR reporters can tell the difference between legitimate free speech and the type of illegitimate protesters we see at the RNC.

    After all they’re anarchists, hippies, crazy kids and terrorists who believe in the constitution and want to help poor people — it’s obvious they should all be locked up in Chinese jails –or maybe Guantanamo.

    Anyway keep up the good work Minn Public Radio. You guys are really helping us sling the propaganda — I guess that’s why we fund you, hey hey!

    Your’s truly,

    G.W. Bush

    The President guy

  • Bob Collins

    //After all they’re anarchists, hippies, crazy kids and terrorists who believe in the constitution and want to help poor people

    Right up to the point where someone asks them a simple question, GW.

    I’m not their bullhorn. If that disappoints you, believe me, I can live with that.

    I’ve heard enough stump speeches. I want to have a conversation involving a question and an answer.

    If poor people and the other causes you mentioned or so important, I would think that would be little more than a minor inconvenience, if it’s an inconvenience at all.

    So let me rephrase your point for those who didn’t catch your sarcasm:

    “Why can’t you just print what we tell you to say without questioning or scrutiny?”

  • Bob Collins writes, “I’m not their bullhorn. If that disappoints you, believe me, I can live with that.

    “I’ve heard enough stump speeches. I want to have a conversation involving a question and an answer.”

    Here was Collins’s question, “was any evidence that law enforcement had infiltrated their organizations….That was 2004, I’m asking about 2008.”

    Think about it. The Church Committee, with all its resources, was releasing its reports in 1976 about COINTELPRO and other efforts to 1971 and prior. The New York Times with all its resources published the story on the NYC police infiltration of the groups planning protests of the 2004 RNC on March 25, 2007.

    And according to your own station reporting on the Ramsey Co. Sheriff, he claimed at his news conference that he had infiltrated.

    I hope that you will cover the news for us and put it in context.

    Thank you.

  • Bob Collins

    The context, Beth, is that Fletcher didn’t make his comment until a half hour after I asked the people who called the news conference if they thought they’d been infiltrated.

    My next question — if they’d been interested — would have been, “do you feel you can trust each other now?”

    Because it was clear to me on Saturday morning that the strategy of the cops was to disrupt the leadership by creating an internal panic via paranoia.

    They’re supposed to have a news conference tomorrow and maybe someone will be able to ask a question, like: “the cops were right about your intentions, right?”

    I’m guessing that won’t get answered, however.

  • rt

    These people put innocent kids and people in danger. They are no better than terrorists and should all be in jail. I didn’t see any of them protesting everytime the Democrats blocked a Republican bill even if it meant help for the middle class. Their agenda is entirely based on “look at me, I am being suppressed!”