Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Letter to Chris Coleman, the Mayor of St. Paul

I emailed this to the mayor a couple of days ago:

I left St. Paul for a week while the Republicans were in town, because I expected problems -- not from the demonstrators, but from the city government, the police and the Secret Service. I thought the steps you guys were taking to protect the RNC from the outside world, including the people of St. Paul, were excessive and offensive. Everything I have heard since coming home indicates that the trouble I expected happened. As far as I can tell, the cops -- and that utter dimwit Fletcher -- overreacted to small and mostly harmless demonstrations. (I do not consider a few broken windows a major threat to civil peace.) Arresting people before they have done anything and arresting journalists covering the Convention has a very ugly look. There is a good piece in last week's City Pages on the city's lousy and violent crowd control, and an article by Amy Goodman on Common Dreams on how the city treated respected journalists. In addition, there are plenty of scary videos on the Internet of the St. Paul police force in action. This is how many Americans will think of St. Paul: a city occupied by an army of police in riot gear, a city afraid of its own shadow.

Fletcher is the Sheriff of Ramsey County, a tiny county which includes St. Paul and not much else. Ray McGovern's article, quoted in a previous post, describes how Fletcher operates.


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