Sunday, September 07, 2008

RNC Welcoming Committee Targeted in Pre-Convention Police Raids

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner (above)

"The 'Welcoming Committee' is a criminal enterprise made up of 35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention."--Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher

The Minneapolis FBI (8-30-08) reports:

On August 30, 2008 at 8:00 a.m. the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, supported by the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, executed search warrants...[Here are warrants that Minnesota Public Radio obtained on Sept 2, following the raid. I think these must be the warrants mentioned in this article.]

These search warrants were a part of an ongoing investigation regarding serious criminal acts involving key members of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher stated, “This investigation pertains to actions of the RNC Welcoming Committee. The “Welcoming Committee” is a criminal enterprise made up of 35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention. These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers. They have recruited assistance in their criminal conspiracy from other anarchists groups throughout the country. Through their plans and actions they have exhibited a blatant disregard for the law and the safety of others.”

During the searches a number of items were recovered, some of which included:

Materials used in creating “sleeping dragons” (pvc pipe, chicken wire, duct tape)
Large amounts of urine (including 3 – 5 gallon buckets of urine)
Wrist Rockets
Assorted edged weapons including a machete, hatchet and several throwing knives
Gas mask and filter
Empty glass bottles
Rags
Flammable liquids
Homemade Caltrops (devises used to disable buses in roads)
Metal pipes
Axes
Bolt cutters
Sledge hammers
Old tires (for burning)
Repelling equipment
Kryptonite locks
Empty plastic buckets cut and made into shields
Material for protective padding
An army helmet

Five persons were arrested this morning for probable cause conspiracy to riot, conspiracy to commit civil disorder and conspiracy to damage property. [Full text]

The Minnesota Independent (9-3-08) reports:

Twenty one people have been charged with felonies stemming from Republican National Convention protest activities, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. This includes eight individuals affiliated with the RNC Welcoming Committee who were the target of pre-convention police raids and face second-degree conspiracy to riot charges. Seven of them are being held on $75,000 bail, while the remaining individual is at large.

“We have watched as a few lawless people tried to overshadow a peaceful protest and the exercise of free-speech rights by thousands of law-abiding citizens,” Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner (pictured) said at a press conference this afternoon detailing the charges.

Prosecutors were initially provided 71 potential felony cases by police investigators. Six cases are undergoing further review, while the evidence in 44 potential cases was deemed insufficient to warrant felony charges. Of those 16 were referred to the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office for consideration of lesser charges, while 27 were dropped outright. For protesters arrrested on the opening day of the convention, authorities had to either charge them by noon today or release them.

Roughly 300 people have been jailed since the start of the RNC. Gaertner defended the large number of arrests, stating that under the circumstances it’s not surprising that a significant percentage of potential cases proved meritless. “Given the fact that these anarchists are trained to create as much confusion, as much of a melee as possible — to conceal their identity both on the street and while they’re brought through the process — it’s not surprising that every single one of these arrests cannot result in a prosecutable crime,” she said.

In addition, 47 protesters have been charged with gross misdemeanors through the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office, primarily third degree conspiracy to riot and obstructing the legal process. “A lot of these individuals are from out of town who have come here to create mayhem and it’s our intention to hold those offenders accountable,” said City Attorney John Choi. [Full text]

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