Monday, September 01, 2008

RNC: St. Paul Police Take A Nice, Shiny Dump On The Fourth Amendment

Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Now contrast this:

Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying...

In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant...(H)ours later, the Police finally obtained a search warrant -- for the wrong house, one adjacent to the house where they were being detained -- and nonetheless broke in, pointing guns, forced them to lay on the floor and handcuffed everyone inside (and handcuffed a National Lawyers Guild attorney outside). They searched the house, arrested nobody, and then left.

And this:

The search warrants, signed Friday by a judge, sought multiple items, including electronics and MP3 players, rags, jars, Molotov cocktails, communication between RNC Welcoming Committee members, urine and feces...The alleged urine (group that represents the demonstrators maintained) was actually three buckets, two of which contained dirty water used to flush toilets while conserving water. The third was seized from an illegal apartment occupied by someone not connected to the RNC protests. There was no bathroom in the illegal apartment and urine was collected in a bucket...(the police's) warrant specified that they were authorized to look for weapons, evidence of involvement with terrorism, and various electronics, but they took nothing.

With this, from August 21st:

Six Americans detained by police this week could be held for 10 days, according to Chinese authorities, who appear to be intensifying their efforts to shut down any public demonstrations during the final days of the Olympic Games. . . .

Chinese Olympic officials announced last month that Beijing would set up zones where people could protest during the Games, as long as they had received permission. None of the 77 applications submitted was approved, however, and several other would-be protesters were stopped from even applying.

And this:
Behind the gray walls and barbed wire of the prison here, eight Chinese farmers with a grievance against the government have been consigned to Olympic limbo.

Their indefinite detainment, relatives and neighbors said, is the price they are paying for stirring up trouble as China prepares to host the Beijing Games. Trouble, the Communist Party has made clear, will not be permitted.

And we're a more moral nation because...?

As for those of you who wonder what this has to do with music, picture what would happened if the police--who, to be fair, have a difficult, dangerous, and underpaid job, both in terms of keeping order during the convention, as well as on a regular, daily basis--raided other houses in the Twin Cities with communal tendencies? It's too frightening to even think about.

Tactics such as these must be condemned unequivocally, regardless of the offender's--and victim's--ideology. Your freedom of speech is freedom or death. You know what's next.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Anonymous Aaron said...

I've been following this news story very closely and it is pretty sickening.

I was pleased to read that the police happened to raid a group of journalists (with an incorrectly addressed warrant) because maybe then they'll receive some sort of repercussion.

Unfortunately, police have much to much power in this country.

Thank god for "free speech zones," or not.

I'd say the bonus track to None Shall Pass is quite appropriate given the situation:

7:07 PM  
Blogger MPLSFR said...

In Chicago, there's a joke about the police's favorite method of interrogation: "two warning shots to the head."

says it all.

9:46 PM  

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