At the RNC: Terror on Robert Avenue

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

Another thrilling cross-post from

Deep black-clad troops thick with riot gear and anonymizing helmets, no distinction between them save color-coded duct tape between the shoulders and the slightly differing gait in the thudding of their boots against the cold and hard pavement marched, od I’m not kidding you, Gestapo style up the middle of Robert Avenue in St. Paul last night around 8:45 p.m., straight up toward the Capital building, where they young girls I’d just interviewed were headed because, as they explained, “the march was getting too rowdy.”

Boy, were they probably surprised when 300 storm troopers in black black riot gear showed up to the party, that had been shut down for hours.

It was easily the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen: When I watch videos of the Khmer Rouge moving in on cities in Cambodia, a place I love second only to America, I try to access what the feeling must be like of watching your people invade their own with intent to harm in mass, faceless numbers. Before last night at 8:45 p.m., I could not for the life of me imagine it. And now I saw it, in the very city I’d grown up to believe was immune from the evils of the world.

I know it’s too late to lose my innocence, again, but I took a moment to meditate beside a lake this morning in Chanhassen where we’re all staying, the great pink horde of us, far far away from the clamor of the streets (too far if you ask me, but some of the ladies here are content with that). As I looked out over the gently moving lake, waking up with the 8 a.m. winds, rocking against the shore, I hit sorrow in the pit of my stomach like I haven’t felt before. I thought it might be the aggravation of 20-hour days spent fighting, documenting, worrying, running, sorting through the miscommunications of a group on the go, and just plain old waiting for something to happen. It wasn’t.

It was the image of black American troops moving in with intent to harm young American civilians.

Reports will roll in today about what exactly went down and where. Anarchists will be blamed for “bomb-making”—these aren’t, by the way, to be believed—and stories of National Guardsmen and St. Paul Police and Sheriffs and undercover cops going rogue and lashing out at people will flood the Midwest like the Mighty Mississippi. What I know is that dump trucks were called in to blockade entire streets. Hundreds of troops suited up before the Rage Against the Machine Concert and waited for them to start. Two lines of troops surrounded all sides of a peaceful march just winding down—put on, by the way, by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign—and threw tear gas, released flash grenades (at least four of them), intimidated, harassed, and roiled a crowd standing up for their right to speak out against a damaging administration into a frenzy they then had to control, through further intimidation and harassment.

Pictures are going up here.

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Check here for updates or whatever I can find.

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