The Welcoming Committee (their Web site proclaims them as "anarchists") issued this statement a bit ago:
First, let us start by saying thank you.
Thank you to the 1000's of people who courageously faced 10 ton buses, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, batons, charging horses, gas masks, rubber bullets, and all of the tools of repression and intimidation that were used yesterday to repress the public in this supposed democracy. Your direct actions stand in stark contrast to the conventioneers inside the Xcel Energy Center, passively dragging the party line and the rest of this world down with it.
We are inspired by the extraordinary people who stopped buses, blocked highway ramps, and breached concrete barriers to reclaim the streets and recapture the space of downtown St Paul. We are excited about what the next few days may bring, now that the illusion of business as usual has been shattered.
The actions taken yesterday prove that the tactics of intimidation, harassment, violent oppression, the snatching of specific individuals, and the profiling of activists will not stop committed people from taking to the streets for what they believe in and putting their bodies behind those convictions. These tactics were seen yesterday in the targeting of medical workers, journalists, legal observers, and the public. They are the same tactics used daily by police and governments around the world to terrorize and oppress those that they claim to serve.
Indeed, after a long hard day of losing control in the streets and having to resort to calling in the National Guard, Sheriff Bob Fletcher continues the raids on homes, public spaces, and our lives. It isn't surprising that these tactics continue, especially now that Sheriff Fletcher and the mayor's office are faced with the challenge of trying to spin 284 arrests and climbing, 130 of those people being charged with felonies, along with massive police and military brutality. In spite of the arrests of our friends, we are excited by the fact that the number of people willing to take to the streets and express their dissent is growing, and we proudly support the March for Our Lives happening in St Paul today.
The infrastructure that has been created for these actions with the help and support of the twin cities community has been amazing. 100's of people in Minneapolis and St. Paul have opened their homes to 1000's of protesters, Locals and newcomers have taken time off work and from their lives to cook meals, provide medical care, legal support, and transportation. We understand that it must be intimidating to see people organizing for themselves around the idea of mutual aid and solidarity, but in doing this we are actively creating the world we want to live in. This is work that we will continue to do for the rest of our lives.
See you in the streets
Bob - I alternate between the thought that it is good for us to know what these crazy fools are about and disappointment that you have provided them an outlet for their message.
Believe me, I get THAT, Alison. OTOH, it does give us a chance to analyze their statement.
"We are actively creating the world we want to live in?"
What kind of world is THAT exactly? One where you should be free t throw rocks through a private business? Throw bleach on other citizens?
There's a lot of talks about rights and oppression, but in some ways the group is engaged in its own denial of rights and oppression.
One of the reasons these folks wouldn't answer my questions the other day is that they didn't want scrutiny of their actions or message; apparently they didn't believe either could stand up to that scrutiny.
So I don't think we should be afraid to do that here. And if they object, I would welcome one of them to sit down and answer questions.
The statement this organization has issued is incredibly infuriating (yes I'm trying to restrain myself from swearing incessantly). I live downtown, and these people obviously don't know anything about St Paul or the Twin Cities in general. The police stood aside and directed people and traffic and there was a completely sanctioned series of protests and marches. These people broke away and proceeded to attack police and residential buildings. Maybe it's not clear to them but most of the buildings, even the ones with businesses, have residences and I was especially disturbed to find that they had smashed windows at Galtier Plaza.
They also broke windows at First National down the street from myself, and given that the building I live in has a name like The Commerce Building I'm surprised our windows weren't broken as well.
Whereas before even with the barriers traffic flow was actually fairly good downtown, after they began attacking police and blocking traffic I couldn't even get to my parking ramp on Jackson, Shephard was closed (making it difficult to get to my parents), and with bus traffic being suspended it was questionable whether or not my girlfriend would be able to get to and from work.
They don't seem to understand that not everyone downtown, not even a likely majority, is a Republican or has connections to anything going on. They don't understand that most of the people here are middle class, with a two individual median income of 50-60K, not rich upper class banking types. They don't realize that the police in this area are usually nice and very helpful (and fairly apologetic about having to block the streets off) and aren't abusive.
If they wanted to make a statement and be disruptive in any meaningful way they would have stayed by the Xcel Center. They didn't though. Instead they decided to blindly attack downtown proper, a place where I just moved to from Highland Park because it is beautiful, peaceful, diverse, urban, open, and easily accessible. They made my first week here an interesting one, and not in a positive way. They had no real message, no real purpose. If they really wanted change they should remember to vote in November, and if they want people to listen to them they shouldn't smash their neighborhood.
I've never been so happy to see so many police. I think we should honestly give them a lot of thanks for keeping things moving as smoothly as they did and making sure that the residents remained safe.
I wish that these people could learn about the area and understand what Minnesota has tried to work toward as a state, especially here in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately they'd rather throw rocks.
The actions of this group and their cousins make a mockery of public protest, civil disobedience and the anti-war movement. They make breaking windows and throwing trash cans the issue rather than the imperative of ending the Iraq war. These action were ineffective 40 years ago and they are ineffective now. They can take their self-indulgent antics home right now.
Do these kids have a platform? A belief system they are trying to advance? I don't trust people in masks. I call shenanigans.
I participated in the peaceful anti-war march of families and neighbors yesterday, a march that made clear that thousands of local citizens are willing to demonstrate together, despite the environment of fear that was created by the armed camp created downtown, to let policy makers know that our communities are tired of Washington policies that do not represent us. I was particularly touched by the very large number of senior citizens participating in the march.
As a peaceful protester I am clearly opposed to, and dismayed by, the actions of small groups of young people looking for confrontation. I am equally dismayed by the fact that these isolated confrontations with police, involving a total of only 200-300 protesters, were given many times more coverage (especially pictorial coverage) by the news media than the peaceful march of 10,000 citizens. I am unequivocally opposed to violent tactics and condemn the destruction of community property noted by JSmith. I also agree with TedS that such tactics are misguided and ineffective.
However, I do not see any attempt here, or elsewhere in the media to understand why people, especially young people, are so frustrated with the democratic process that they would resort to such tactics. There is also little recognition or discussion of the environment of fear and intimidation that was created by law enforcement even before a single demonstrator arrived in the streets.
I witnessed this fear and intimation first hand as out peaceful march was confronted and corralled by hundreds of police in full riot gear, with clubs poised and tear-gas guns pointed, along the parade route. Grandmothers and small children, engaging in the best kind of peaceful democratic exercise, were faced with this aggressive stance on the part of police, whose leaders were apparently unable to distinguish between a gathering of citizens and neighbors, and separate groups seeking direct action and civil disobedience. From the Anarchist's statement it is clear that they saw this massive show of force as a challenge to confrontation, not wanting to be intimidated or cower.
In short, there is a deeper and more complex story here and news organizations, with few exceptions (see the Twin Cities Daily Planet) are doing an abysmal job of covering it.
What seems to be missing from their statement is an explanation of what they're trying to accomplish. OK, you've 'shattered' 'the illusion of business as usual.'
I personally witnessed a group of people clad in all black clothing attempt to block a street, their method and appearance garnered nothing but laughs and shouts of "way to go idiots" from the dozen or so people that observed them. Someone please expalin to me how breaking windows on a police squad car and Macy's department store communicates a message, other than we are a bunch of delinquents here to cause destruction?
They are trying to make sure the delegates do not reach their final destination. They are trying to show the rest of the world that we've let our country become a fascist police state. Most of the protesters even in the break-off group denounced the lone actions of property destroyers, most anarchists believe property is theft, but they screamed "stop! what message does that send?!" at these lone hooligans, who were most likely police agent provocateurs dressed as the ideal "self described anarchist" they love so much (not all anarchists were dressed in black with bandannas yesterday). The youth movement in this country has become a radical movement. The youth who are protesting in this country are disillusioned with the politics of the past, that is why many have turned to Obama thinking he will change that, or are partaking in actions like Funk the War which is sponsored by the New Students for a Democratic Society, and folks like the "RNC Welcoming Committee"
How Do I Know All Of This? I'm an anarchist and I was almost in the streets with them there, but I needed to stay home in my community where we face similar police brutality against immigrants, and the working class on a regular basis!
So, provoking the police to arrest you by engaging in illegal activities like breaking storefront windows and vandalising government property shows the rest of the world that we've let our country become a fascist police state? Aren't the police supposed to arrest people who break the law? Am I missing something?
Doesn't it say something that the "self-styled anarchists" had to resort to hooliganism to get the police attention they so crave? The peaceful protesters were left in peace. That kind of proves to me that we don't live in a police state.
The Wabasha St Bridge was closed in downtown St Paul on Monday. Following a concert on Harriet Island, everyone was told that they could only use
the Robert St Bridge. Thousands of people proceeded to cross that bridge, which had been closed to car traffic. Suddenly Riot Police blocked the north end of the bridge. holding all of us captive, batons at the ready. We weren't protesters or rioters or anarchists, just regular citizens trying to get back home, via the only route possible. The Riot Police essentially held us pedestrians captive on the Robert St Bridge for a very tense period of time, refusing to talk to us or recognize the gross error they were making. A threat was heard that they were going
to use tear gas on us if we didn't leave. Not knowing what else to do, I called 911, as did many other people, in an attempt to contact any authority in order to get any information that would keep us all safe, and hopefully allow us to get home. A police van approached from behind us and people tried to talk some reason into the officer who was driving. Finally the riot police were told to move aside. Everyone walked by without incident.
However the riot police were also blocking streets that people live on, or had their cars parked on, and would not allow these citizens to go through. We were sternly told to "Just keep walking!" and were not
informed which way to go or what to do. My girlfriend and I had to take a circuitous route home, which was otherwise only four blocks away.
While channel surfing the news that evening, KSTP Channel 5 reported that protesters purposefully blocked the Robert St Bridge, which of course, was untrue. I called them immediately to point out their erroneous reporting and requested a retraction. I also contacted every other news outlet in the area to bring this to their attention, and urged them to please report on what actually happened.
I wondered about that.
My parents had been downtown visiting my girlfriend and I, and right after they left we went down to the street to go to the market. My parents called and said that we should get inside because from where they were at it looked like a mob was coming across the bridge and was headed up the street. They said it looked like the police had been called in and were blocking off the area by 4th. We walked back toward the apartment and as we were heading inside we could see mounted officers up the street. Nothing ever materialized though.
After awhile I could see people crossing the bridge from my apartment. I figured it was just pedestrian traffic (which it was apparently). I couldn't see police officers on the other hand.
I think people were just edgy. Someone might have even called it in. If my parents thought it was a mob someone else might have as well.
Part of the issue for transport that day was that Kellogg was completely shut down. My parking garage is in between 4th and Kellogg on Jackson and I wasn't allowed down the street to actually get inside it. Fortunately being on a motorcycle I could park on the sidewalk in a designated area.
I asked an officer and he said there wasn't anything they could do, they were just following orders that had been called in.
Just because we might not know exactly what we are talking about when it comes to politics, we embrace the anger that is being felt by thousands around the world. We are here in St. Paul to wake up those that should be angry that they are being persecuted. We act on their behalf. They might not want us to do what we do on their behalf, but if they are to see the pain that we feel by seeing them feeling pain and not recognizing it, we have to break windows. You are all cowards if you don't don the red and black and hit the streets.
"we have to break windows. "
and then you conclude with:
Thanks for providing a starting point for the comments, Bob. I figured the decision to post the statement or not was difficult. Hopefully the discussion might cause an anarchist or two pause, think through the non-sense, and give it up.
Where do these people come from? What are their backgrounds? How does you get to the point in your life where statements like the one posted above make sense to you?
Other than arresting law breakers, is there way to get to these people? They detract from the peaceful messages most of the other protesters are trying to convey.
So 'Fascists!!', you break windows because you feel pain by seeing other people feel pain but they don't know they feel the pain? I guess I'm missing something. If people are out there feeling pain please let us know so we can help. Send us an appeal.
Also 'Fascists!!', don't forget the pain you are causing. Those police you stand up against are everyday people who feel compelled to do their part to protect the civilians and property your group wishes to harm. The people in these uniforms don't wake up in the morning wanting to hurt you. They wake up in the morning hoping that people who disagree can do it in a civilized manner. The police don't want to be put in the difficult positions that your group puts them in. And of course the response looks like a police state. Your group puts out threats to harm and pillage. What do you expect to happen? Are we supposed to just let you destroy things and hurt people?
It occurs to me as a distant observer that the object of the controversial actions was social agitation, not ideological persuasion.
This seems similar in tactic to our government's foreign and domestic policies. Really, this government is more than prepared to ignore and cover up all so-called peaceful protests (read: state sanctioned).
When a dog is attacking you, you cannot simply yell "sit!", at some point you have to strike back.
On the other hand, it is indeed regrettable that innocent people's lives have been affected by violence.
You all act like the "anarchists" are personally attacking you. We are not. We are attacking symbols of the police-state society we live. Why was the Macy's window smashed? Because Macy's is giant corporation who no doubt sells clothing made in sweatshops. Because Macy's is a part of the commercialization of our culture where to fit a 14 yr old girl must $150 jeans. Many are upset by the decision to vandalize property, including members of the "anarchist" community. We understands it discredits us. But in the same way that you cannot control us, we cannot control the factions that decide to destroy property.
Why are we blockading intersections? To attempt to stop delegate buses from reaching their final destination and disrupt the charade our country puts on every four years when the parties pick their candidates.
Many of us participated in the sanctioned march, but many more of you should have protested in the direct actions. The sanctioned march was a part of the "free speech" zone and every where else in downtown was off limits. Our understanding was that the United States was a free speech zone, so who does the City of St Paul think they are when tell you and us where we can practice our first amendment rights?
We were at Shepherd Road. We were on the sidewalks. We were not throwing rocks or any other projectile. At least 90% of us had no weapon other than our hands (how long before the police state classifies a clenched fist as a deadly weapon? You tell us). The police used pepper spray, tear gas, and concussion bombs on us. While rinsing out follow activists eyes from the pepper spray, a cop casually tossed a canister of tear gas inches from us. This is the police-state we are protesting. You can say that the cops only acted this way because we instigated, fine whatever, that may be true to an extent. But when you lose your jobs and homes due the impending depression and your government is taking from the poor and giving to the rich and you want to protest in the streets, be prepared for the same (if not higher) level of force used against us.
As far as the scary people in bandannas go, have you ever been tear gassed? Since many of us cannot afford gas masks like the police who received $50 million from the feds for equipment/personnel, the bandanna is our best defense.
Also on the note, after all the scary anarchist are gone, the St Paul PD will still have all the equipment from the RNC including tasers. Good luck with that . . .
What is the political agenda of the anarchists? Are you all missing the point? There is no collective anarchist agenda. We would never force our beliefs on you or each other and would expect the same in return.
Many of you are also upset because the "anarchists" are using illegal methods to further their agendas. Civil disobedience is illegal and its a tactic that has been used by revolutionaries around the world. We are no MLK or Gandhi, but we respect their methods, just as we respect yours and the diversity of methods used by protesters everywhere.
Who are the anarchists? Well, those bandannas keep us fairly anonymous which is a good thing. We could not be productive members of society without our anonymity as you would essentially exclude us as much as possible. We are teachers, students, parents, youth, seniors, crazy housewives, former republicans, and a few are your children's babysitter. We residents of St Paul, Minnesota, and the world.
Tell me what a police state looks like- look out your window, that's what a police state looks like. You've all got too caught up in the distractions of the new era to notice.
As always- peace, love, and freedom to all the Earth's creatures.
Spring - I am very much a proponent of free speech, but as the plans of the violent anarchist groups are made public it seems clear to me why safety zones have been set up. These groups have disupted meetings of groups like the IMF and World Bank in the past. Plans were found out for disruption of this event long in advance. Of course the government was going to plan to protect its citizens from those who threaten violence, which I understand you say is not you. However, those people are out there threatening violence and following through on their threats. We would avoid zones that look like police states if we did not have groups threatening violence. By the way, this city does not look like a police state. A few blocks which are the targets of violents threats do. Do your part, Spring, disassociate from those violent groups if you don't believe in their actions or convince them they are wrong.
Are many of these anarchists mentally ill? Hearing the incoherent, illogical statements released by them you certainly have to wonder.
St Paul, and Minnesota in general, has always prided itself on its free political climate. People here vote often, have lots of political discussion (which is uncommon for the midwest), and practice free speech all of the time through letter writing, demonstration, and even just calling into the radio to talk about things. Protesters were allowed into downtown, and in front of the Xcel. They were allowed to plan additional protests and meetings around the city.
I say they were allowed, and I don't mean they couldn't or wouldn't have done so anyway. They would have. The difference is in this case it was a way to guarantee that everyone would stay safe and there wouldn't be a disruption of normal business in St Paul. A lot of people live and work here (and more every day). We don't necessarily disagree that the country is going in the wrong direction, but here in Minnesota we're already doing our part. Now it's time to do yours. That doesn't mean destroying things. It means calling people, writing e-mails, organizing your friends, talking to your representatives, and most importantly voting.
Attacking property (especially around places we live) won't help. Attacking people won't help; remember the police are people too. Here in St Paul we generally get along with those officers and they do a good job. In the end these activities will only make us and others dislike you. Your message is lost.
Oh, and I hate to comment twice in a row, but Bob doesn't it make you wonder about Day 4?
Definition of "anarchy". Absence of government-state of lawlessness-political disorder. Do these spoiled affluent little college students not realize that if true anarchy reigned, they be quickly disposed of by the truly tough?
What a sad state of affairs. Who are these individuals who have the time for disruption? Don't they work? Don't they have jobs? Couldn't their message be heard better and stronger if it weren't being chanted while they are throwing rocks at the police? As a viewer outside of the "green zone" I can say that I have difficulty aligning myself with those dressed with bandannas and black hoodies. I too want change, I too pray for a better future and to bring our troops home. The difference is, I choose to educate intelligently. These marches are merely parades to entertain the press. We are better than this. I expect to see a higher than average turnout at the polls.
i guess an anarchist might argue that the disordered social structure you describe wherein some are "disposed of" by the "truly tough" already exists, and that actions such as these are reflexive demonstrations of the force of that disposal system