Thursday, September 18, 2008

Putting the RNC Demonstrations in Perspective

I have been doing more research on the Internet. This is from the Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota student newspaper:

The University Police Department had four officers in attendance at the RNC — two mounted officers and two motorcycle operators.

This put a strain on the remaining UMPD force, mandating that officers work longer than 12-hour days, University police Chief Greg Hestness said.

Hestness argued police response was justified considering the methods of protest.

“I know that a lot of tear gas was used,” he said. “But we don’t have any reports of citizens or officers seriously injured.”

Hestness said the RNC protests were far tamer in his opinion than the protests following the 2003 Gopher hockey (victory) when “strictly alcohol-fueled” students took to the streets starting fires and causing damage all over the University.

And here is the Associated Press on the 2003 hockey riot:

Moments after the Minnesota hockey team won its second straight national title Saturday, police began dealing with hundreds of students who began setting fires on campus.

Shortly after Saturday's game, students converged on the streets, setting cars, mattresses and dumpsters on fire. There also was broken glass strewn throughout the streets.

About 50 Minneapolis police officers, dressed in riot gear, blocked off streets in Dinkytown, a business area near the Minneapolis campus. The officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Minneapolis police spokesman Ron Reier said he believed there were arrests, but until things settled down he wouldn't have an exact number. There also were no immediate reports of damage to area businesses.

At least two people were injured due to the unruly crowd, Reier said. Both were taken from the scene in an ambulance with minor injuries.

Police were expecting a display similar to the one that led to 45 arrests and nearly $40,000 in property damage after last year's championship win over Maine.

This event, which the U of M Police Chief describes as far worse than the RNC and which caused more property damage according to the Minnesota Independent, was controlled by 50 Minneapolis cops with pepper gas.

I haven't been able to find the number of cops at the RNC yet. I know they were recruited from all over the Midwest, and the videos I've seen show walls of cops in riot gear, looking very scary. I've read and heard that they used tear gas, rubber bullets, tasers, pepper spray, clubs and stomping on people to control the tamer-than-hockey-jocks crowds. The Minnesota Independent has photos of a 17 year old kid -- a Buddhist -- with boot marks on his body, along with scrapes and blood, all caused by the police according to the kid and his family.

This was not necessary; it was not legal; and it has given St. Paul a nasty reputation internationally.


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