Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rights Trampled at RNC: An Eyewitness Account

In the whole nonsensical hullaballoo over celebrity selection of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate, we cannot lose sight of what happened outside the Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul, Minnesota, in early September 2008. In the city that touts itself as the "Most Livable City in America," the police trampled on people's rights of free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press, just to keep the RNC from hearing any voices of dissent. "Welcome to St. Paul, you're under arrest" should be the city's new moniker.

Scores of activists were arrested, including members of the independent media, peacekeepers from the Michigan and Minnesota Peace Teams, and curious observers who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Activists and media members were arrested wholesale by the police and now have misdemeanor and felony charges pending against them. Among those charged were Father Peter Dougherty of the Lansing-based Michigan Peace Team and other Lansing activists, Amy Goodman and two producers from Democracy Now!, and hundreds of other people who took their issues and concerns -- not to mention their constitutional rights and civil liberties -- to the insulated RNC in St. Paul. For many, the voice of American political dissent was filled with American-made police tear gas.

Event: "Voices of Dissent"

Lansing area activists who were in St. Paul for the RNC will tell their story, including a photo slide show, and discuss the protests and police actions at the NorthStar Center, 106 Lathrup Street, Lansing, Michigan, on Tuesday, September 16th, at 7:30 p.m. This community event, titled "Voices of Dissent: A Report Back from the RNC," will be free and open to the public.

Eyewitness Podcast Interview

Stefan Lanwermeyer of Lansing was interviewed by me for the "Peace Podcast from the Peace Education Center (PEC)." Stefan was one of the Lansing activists who was in St. Paul and saw first-hand the police actions against activists. My interview with Stefan is posted below. I hope to post additional eyewitness accounts from Father Peter Dougherty and the Minnesota Peace Team later this week.

-- Rico Thomas Rico

Peace Teams (In yellow, left) Arrested in St. Paul

Peace Podcast from the PEC:

"The Activist Arrests at the 2008 RNC"

[51 minutes, Downloadable]

MP3 File

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