Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Protestors and Police Clash in St. Paul

Protestors and Police Clash in St. Paul

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If you thought the Twin Cities was a security state over the weekend, when police preemptively raided the homes of suspected protestors, you should've seen it today, on Day One of the Republican Convention.

Cops in Denver were ready for protests. Cops in St. Paul were ready for the apocalypse, with downtown turning into a surreal scene from "Children of Men."

An estimated 50,000 antiwar protestors gathered in the morning for a big rally outside the state Capitol building. As the rally neared its conclusion, roughly 1,000 students, led by the revamped Students for a Democratic Society, led a breakaway march downtown. They were met, according to eyewitnesses, by a crew of bike cops who sprayed a number of protestors with tear gas. One such protestor, a documentary filmmaker named Marcus Washington, described his experience while lying on the ground in a serious amount of pain. I captured it on film.

After the rally, I overheard two Republican delegates from Minnesota discussing the protests at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn.

"Did you see those bogus protestors," one said.

"Oh yeah, what a disgrace!" the other responded.

"They can't even do it right."

Whatever that means.

Later in the day, an employee at a Starbucks near the Xcel Center (home of the RNC) informed customers that protestors had supposedly smashed some windows a few blocks away. I happened to be sitting in a chair near the window and was asked if I wanted to move. I decided to stay.


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