City sued over RNC raid

According to a news release that’s crossed the inbox, lawyers for a homeowner in St. Paul are suing the city over a police raid on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

Says the release:

The first lawsuit resulting from the police invasion of a St. Paul home prior to the Republican National Convention will be announced at a press conference October 10. Notice will be served on the city of Saint Paul that lawyers representing Michael Whalen will seek $250,000 in damages. Whalen’s duplex on Iglehart Avenue was cordoned off by St. Paul police working with the FBI and Homeland Security people. Whalen and his tenants and guests were held at gunpoint for several hours, not allowed to leave – and no one allowed to enter.

It has not been disclosed what prompted the raid. An FBI agent (perhaps Scott Zimmerman) had requested entry an hour earlier. When denied he apparently called the St. Paul authorities who sent two dozen or so officers into the streets, alleys and entrances of Whalen’s home.

When these officers also were denied entry, they held the premises under armed guard while police tried to create a legitimate reason for an invasion. After an hour or two, Officer Langfellow swore that Mr. Whalen had supported Irish Independence some 20 years ago, had co-owned a bookstore for a whole year with Sarah Jane Olsen also 20 years ago, had recently failed to put his address numbers on one half of the duplex and had received heavy boxes by US Mail.

The sworn affidavit, supporting the request for a search warrant, also contained a straight-out falsehood about Whalen’s activities that day. Amazingly, a judge of the District Court found all this sufficient to issue the warrant – for the wrong address! The items listed in the warrant for seizure did not include Irish literature, letters from Ms Olson, unused address numbers nor the vegan literature in the heavy boxes.

It might be noted that Whalen’s guests included journalists who are part of the growing people’s independent press movement, which documents and web-publishes police abuse around this land of ours. Some of these folks were raided again elsewhere and some were arrested as they documented the new face of St. Paul, formerly the most livable city in America.

Mr. Whalen is represented by attorneys Ted Dooley and Peter Nickitas, both members of the National Lawyers Guild. Dooley will be among the speakers at the press conference.

On Thursday, MPR’s Laura Yuen took a look at St. Paul’s protection against lawsuits like this, an insurance policy the city required the organizers of the convention to buy.

The city required the Minneapolis-St. Paul host committee to buy insurance costing $1.2 million that would pay up to $10 million in damages. The policy doesn’t have a limit on legal expenses.

That means St. Paul won’t have to tap its self-insurance fund unless the damages exceed $10 million. The policy also covers other cities that provided officers for security during the RNC.