Reader John Morson sent along this recap of how a group of people on the way back from the labor concert at Harriet Island got caught in a standoff with police on Monday.
The Wabasha St Bridge was closed in downtown St Paul today (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 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. 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.
If you think that's bad... think about the handicapped individuals that work down there. Currently, they have to walk a few MILES to get to work... many of which cannot do that safely. When I called the City of St. Paul about this, they said it was only a minor inconvenience that we all have to endure, even people with disabilities.