Live-blogging Midmorning: Mayor Chris Coleman

Mayor Chris Coleman is on Midmorning. Here are the salient points.

9:20 a.m. The city of St. Paul has been put on a map it has never been on before. Cites a cop in St. Louis who said “he can’t wait to bring his family here.”

9:21 a.m. Caller who says he was swept up yesterday even though he wasn’t a protester. “These guys trained for a year and had all these toys and they were itching to use them.”

“Fully comfortable with the methods used?” Kerri asks. Yes/No question not answered with a yes/no. Coleman recounts information the cops had about the protesters. “I want people to understand, this was not just a couple of people who were mouthing off. It was one of the most coordinated efforts in the history of the country to shut down political dialog.”

Kerri asks her question again. No yes/no answer yet. The mayor says the protesters violated the 5 p.m. limit of the protest. Says cops didn’t just shut it down, for four hours the police “very patiently waited for this thing to move.”

Kerri presses on the caller’s contention that he was heading for his car when he had a gun pointed in his face. Coleman says “it’s hard for the police department to tell who is who?”

“Are you entirely comfortable with all of the methods?” Kerri asks. “We’ll do a review,” Coleman said.

“This morning, how do you feel?” she persists.

“This morning I feel great,” the mayor said.

Is that a ‘yes”?

9:27 a.m. Caller says she’s proud of St. Paul. “Last night I was terribly sad and heartsick. It was a peaceful protest. The intimidation use was frustrating. How do you plan to pay for lawsuits.”

Coleman says officers acted within their lawful authority. Coleman says the city isn’t liable because the Host Committee purchased a lawsuit to cover liability. (Some people say that gave the police license to be tougher than they had to be.)

“People need to understand; this was not a soft threat. They were going to throw everything they had at us. That’s the duty of public safety.”

9:31 a.m. Business owner on Grand says not a single delegate came in. Charter buses between the X and Grand were empty.

“You have to focus in on the four days of the convention. Some businesses did not have benefit but many did. Says Meritage, Heime’s and Keys had best week’s (most of the articles I’ve seen about Meritage were so-so. What’s the story here? In the last half hour of the show, Kerri is looking for businesses to call in.)

Coleman says construction crews, Host Committee were here for months ahead of time, shopping, eating and having drinks. It’s a slow week for retail anyway. He repeats the story of the police officer who can’t wait to come back. Coleman’s message appears to be that whatever businesses didn’t get this week, they got in the weeks leading up to the convention.

Laura Yuen and Brandt Williams assess this.

9:35 a.m. – Coleman on Coleman. Kerri plays Norm Coleman’s remarks to the convention which seemed to suggest St. Paul was Flint, Michigan before Norm. Coleman took office.

Chris Coleman says he disagrees that “he was the engine. A lot of people had been toiling for years.” Says NC was able to rely on a steady increase in state aid, and Clinton Cop money. “He made the city increasingly reliant on other sources of revenue that, in the end, dried up and went away; it became much more of a challenge,” the mayor said.

“It’s a consistent challenge to the Republican message that you can get something for nothing.”

9:38 a.m. Coleman departs.

9:44 a.m. – Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild says the militarized presence of the city “was all out of proportion.” Kerri asks if some responsibility for that falls with the people who were bent on destruction? “Whatever change in tactics was carried out regardless of what was occurring in the crowd,” he said. He says they “chose to grab an independent journalist prepared to do an interview with somebody” at the Mears Park protest.

9:46 a.m. – Caller asks about “journalists” who were detained without having done anything. Specifically asks about Iglehart raid. Nestor says targeting journalists started in Minneapolis last week when the Glass Bead Collective journalists were grabbed when they got off a bus. “Iit raises serious questions about what type of intelligence was used to carry out the raids.

Kerri asks about Coleman’s assistance that there were lots of announcements to disperse. “Journalists also want to be present to cover arrests and see how police behave,” Nestor said. “Even if they heard a dispersal order, there was no opportunity to disperse.”

9:50 a.m. Caller says people didn’t respect other businesses. “There was no capability to shut down the RNC,” Nestor said. “Even if it could happen, does that requiring militarizing the entire city?” He says last night was a “forceful way to suppress dissent.

9:53 a.m. “How dloes it reflect on the city of St. Paul when you’re walking down the street with kids and there are officers on top of cars with guns?” a caller asks.

“In fairness to the St. Paul Police, I think a lot of this was driven by … federal agencies, Secret Service. On a national security event like this, there’s a model that’s been used locally — Seattle, Miami — which relies on the militarized approach and the use of force. The tone was set on Friday night with the raid on the Convergence Center,” Nestor said.

9:56 a.m. Asked about police infiltrators of these groups who heard plans, “They had paid confidential informants who are paid on the value of the information. The more scary, the more valuable,” he said.

== End ==

  • Mike

    I have family members and friends who had to live or go to work in St. Paul during the convention. It was nothing but a headache and an inconvenience to them trying to live their normal lives.

    The so-called long term benefits Coleman touts really will only help a few business owners (if they come about at all). It’s wrong to expect the majority of normal citizens to put up with this kind of disruption in the name of nebulous “future benefits” to a very small group of people.

  • Andrew Mahowald

    how can it be justified to prevent people from assembling at any time they want for a peaceful protest? am i wrong in saying that this is against our constitutional rights? also, why does it have to be organized for a particular time window?

    please enlighten me.

  • The good of the public safety and the smooth functioning of the city trump the right to assembly, Andrew. It may violate the first amendment on face value, but it seems that this is the de facto interpretation of the amendment in today’s society.

    Thus, we now have “free speech zones” and protest permits and all the rest. Keeping the public order is the paramount social virtue.

  • Jim

    “smooth functioning of the city”??? Were you there?

  • bsimon

    I didn’t hear the midmorning broadcast, but did hear parts of the Ryback interview this AM. It sounds like part of the problem might be the dearth of a downtown ‘scene’ around the Xcel. If delegates are primarily bussed to & from events, is it a surprise that they didn’t find a reason to leave the security perimeter and walk around downtown St Paul to spend some money?

    Has anyone asked merchants at the gigamall if they noticed delegates shopping there? For out-of-towners, MOA is far more recognized than Grand Ave.

  • justin heideman

    Paul, I think you miss the point. The whole point of a protest is to disrupt the social order because sometimes that is what’s needed. Sometimes the status quo needs to be shaken up.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that some of the police raids violated the freedom of assembly that our constitution is supposed to protect.

  • MR

    It’s too bad that Kerri couldn’t get Mayor Coleman, or some other actual official, for the whole hour. Mr. Nestor was interesting, but just didn’t have the information to answer the questions that were being asked. A great example of this is when he speculated on federal involvement–he doesn’t know this, he’s guessing based on the exact same information that I have, and that’s not really worthwhile.

    He really only served to pile on the police department, because really the only calls that I heard were asking “why were there so many police, and why did they do what they did?” He couldn’t actually answer the questions based on facts, so he speculated and continued criticizing.

  • Karin

    What I would like to hear is someone acknowledging that there is some middle ground. The whole situation seems to be poorly characterized as an either/or: “EITHER the police were out-of-line OR the protesters were out-of-line.” Everybody wants to blame “the other guys.” This is just false. Some protesters WERE out-of-line and dangerous. Some police WERE out-of-line as well, and that’s why there will be lawsuits to give people their day in court.

    This is NOT a perfect world, and NONE of the “good” protesters can guarantee that the large group of strangers they are with includes NO “bad” protesters.

    It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

    The city can do it’s best to train their police to be “good” police, but it can’t guarantee in advance that each police officer will behave perfectly in the heat of the moment with a large string of judgment calls. That is why there is a court system.

    It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

    If the courts find repeated and concerted efforts by the city and the police to abuse and repress the law-abiding people, I will get more upset at the city. YES. If individual officers are shown to have abused their powers and “get off easy” I will be upset. Please report back. The police should be accountable.

    But if the police were asleep at the wheel and there had been fires, explosions, injuries, or mayhem, I would also be upset.

    By hosting the RNC, there was a great deal of risk taken on by the Cities. Nobody was entirely sure how it would all pan out.

    I expect there were some occasional bad apples and poor decisions, but was it above and beyond what one would anticipate considering the situation?

    How can I tell???

    “The police were overzealous” is what protesters nearly ALWAYS claim. How can I tell if it’s true?

    Some people don’t want to protest peacefully, and then claim that they do to the media. How can I tell? How can the police tell?

  • Justin, I am not necessarily advocating the point. I am only saying that this is the society we live in today.

    I have friends with far more radical views whose sympathies are firmly with the protestors and criticize me for defending MPR’s coverage.

    To quote one of them:

    “Frankly, they (MPR) should be drug out, tarred, and feathered with the rest for their work to blame the “jews and communists” in past reporting.

    classic media liberalism… “this far and no further.”

    And not a peep I’ve heard about the Democratic beatings.

    Scarce a word out of MPR about the detained reporters, or pre-crime”

  • Bob Collins

    Which Democratic beatings are you talking about?

    Also when people say “I didn’t hear a peep from MPR,” if what they mean was “MPR didn’t say anything about…” then people should actually SAY that so that it can be proven one way or the other. What you heard and what we said might be two different things.

    MPR/NPR is responsible for what we said. What you heard is your responsibility.

    //Scarce a word out of MPR about the detained reporters

    And what does that mean exactly? Does that mean it went uncovered and unreported, or does it mean it wasn’t reported exactly the way some people would have preferred.

    But, you’re right if the point is that MPR is not Radio Pacifica . And the right doesn’t think we’re Fox Newsy enough.

  • Coleman: “The city of St. Paul has been put on a map it has never been on before. ”

    I’ve seen a lot of maps, and Saint Paul is always on them. Usually has a star, in fact. But I think this was a bigger deal, at least in its day:

  • Adam

    A lot of things I witnessed and read about this past week reminded me of a Glenn Reynolds article from a couple years back on the overagressive tactics of the police units: SWAT Overkill: The Danger of a Paramilitary Police Force:

    But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians. The trend toward militarizing police began in the ’60s and ’70s when standoffs with the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the University of Texas bell tower gunman Charles Whitman convinced many police departments that they needed more than .38 specials to deal with unusual, high-intensity threats. In 1965 Los Angeles inspector Daryl Gates, who later became police chief, signed off on the formation of a specially trained and equipped unit that he wanted to call the Special Weapons Attack Team. (The name was changed to the more palatable Special Weapons and Tactics). SWAT programs soon expanded beyond big cities with gang problems.

    The whole article is worth reading.

  • Chris

    How predictable that the Mayor of St. Paul finds no problems with the behavior of St. Paul(and many other) cops.

    When in history has a mayor of a city held his/her own police department at fault?

    The first assumption of Kerri Miller should be that what Mayor Coleman was saying was untrue. She was critical, but not nearly enough. As far as I was concerned, his answers were totally unacceptable.

    I was in St. Paul on 2 separate days during the convention. As people keep saying, it was a police state. Roads were blocked. People could not get in or out of the permitted protest on Monday because of all the riot cops. On Tuesday, I personally witnessed 2 people being harassed and detained for doing nothing. This harassment was not even happening during a protest.

    The truth has to be told-the police were out of control.

    Who trained them to do all of this? Why were they acting like the military? These questions must be investigated by MPR.

    It is time for accountability.

  • steph

    I truthfully think that the people protesting were stupid they deserved to get what they got now this doesn’t mean that i am a Republican follower I am just sick of the stupid people protesting I know they are doing it for a reason but by trashing the city its not going to help I say leave the Republicans alone end of story

  • Mary

    I usually salivate at the opportunity to criticize law enforcement, but this time, I think they did the best they could with the situation they were given. Bottom line, they successfully kept all the visiting delegates & politicians from being harmed.