Woman Trouble at the RNC

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

A cross-post from Feministing.com.

The Shock and Awe Campaign at the St. Paul RNC continues unabated, and eyewitness reports are flooding all the technology I got, including good, old-fashioned, hang-out-in the-coffeeshop-and-say-hi-to-people v.1.0. Eyewitnesses at the Mears Park gathering of yesterday afternoon, at which tear gas, “impact rounds” and physical threats ended in the arrests of at least 284 people have the city concerned, regrouping, and cautious. However, passersby at my CPHQ locale, the Black Dog Café a few blocks away, witnessed little to no violence being perpetrated by the black-clad young people targeted in the incident. Although videos now online do show blockades proceeding as originally planned, and one assault against an officer intended to intercede on a particularly rough arrest, I have yet to meet an eyewitness able to confirm the window-smashing or tire fires that supposedly brought out the National Guard.

Eyewitness accounts do, however, relay numerous tales of officers intimidating young people, refusing one woman who was suffering from heatstroke water (in fact, pouring a full bottle of it out in front of her face), violently threatening activists, and gleefully exclaiming with joy after impact rounds harm those standing by. Cops at other detainments have outright lied about the potential dangers of their weapons or actions (one told a detainee that tasers aren’t lethal in any circumstances.) Nine detainees are rumored to have been hospitalized this morning after constant calls that they receive the medical attention they require; no confirmation nor locale of hospitalization has yet been reported.

One CPer, Kathryn Milholland, was detained alongside the nearly 300 other activists in St. Paul last night. She has now been charged with felony conspiracy with intent to incite riot. (Processing however, is proceeding unusually slowly, with only two arrestees completing the process by noon today.) Milholland, 20, also on leadership council on UCF, and very active with the ACLU, had been traveling with a group of 10 other students from the Orlando area, some of whom were also detained. Her medical allergies are concerning given reports that detainees are not being given proper medical care. Milholland had made very clear in advance that she had no interest in being arrested.

The number of arrests from last night does not necessarily reflect the numbers of arrestees whose identifications have not yet been verified—the list of whom was “hundreds long” according to the receptionist at the Ramsey County Jail I spoke with this morning about Milholland. (Cold Snap Legal Collective notes that although some reports of activists’ detainment are coming in, women detainees remain largely unaccounted for.) Clearly marked legal observers, medics, journalists and other support teams are among those arrested or missing. Other experiences of police harassment and threats continue to pour in.

In another incident last night, approximately 170 riot police and 30 mounted officers surrounded and threatened ten singing CODEPINK activists with arrest and physical violence. Video is available here.

“It was police state stuff, and it was scary,” said one seasoned CODEPINK activist caught in the incident—a usually fearless one. “They were posturing for violence and we were not.”

Cold Snap Legal Collective, the organization advocating for protestor’s rights, has now had their phone calls blocked by the Ramsey County Jail. Concerned readers are urged to call the jail at 651-266-9350 and demand that they allow detainees free calls to their hotline number: 651-356-8635. More information and action guidelines here.

Also feel free to check in with CODEPINK's blog PINKtank for updates as the day proceeds: I’m collecting eyewitness accounts as I can find them.

The intimidation, harassment, violence and oppression is unbearable here in St. Paul. (And I thought it was bad when I was a young girl punk growing up in the Midwest!)

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