St. Paul prepares for final RNC protests; more than 400 have been arrested so farby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis police arrested 102 people last night after a crowd leaving the Target Center staged an impromptu march, according to the law enforcement Joint Information Center. That brings the total number of people arrested in conjunction with the Republican National Convention to more than 400, with one more day of protests to go.
Two anti-war marches are scheduled for this afternoon in downtown St. Paul, and police expecte the protests to mirror those of the past week.
In other words, mostly peaceful but not without provocation.
"Usually there's a few that are bent on civil unrest that mix in with the parade or the march," said Pete Crum with the RNC's joint law enforcment unit.
"We will be ready, just as we have been."
Youth Against War and Racism plans to rally at the Capitol at noon. The Anti-War Committee will rally at the Capitol at 4 p.m., then march to the Xcel Energy Center.
Last night, police arrested more than 100 protesters in downtown Minneapolis following a politically charged concert.
It's not unusual for fans leaving a Rage Against the Machine show to come out chanting some of the band's defiant choruses, like "All hell can't stop us now," or 'F- you I won't do what you tell me."
Last night, instead of going home, about 250 amped up fans stayed in the street in front of Target Center. They remained for at least an hour after the show marching up and down 1st avenue right in front of the arena.
Police Chief Tim Dolan was on hand to watch the operation. For a while, it looked like concertgoers would leave on their own.
"We're OK, they're thinning out a lot." Dolan said.
But they didn't thin out fast enough. Soon dozens of police on foot, horseback and bicycles -- most in riot gear -- pushed the revelers out of the area, down 7th St. The crowd of marchers dwindled along the way and several blocks from the Target Center, police officers closed in around the remaining marchers, even some observers, like Dan Kriske.
"We were watching the convention at about 10 p.m. and we saw, people gearing up for protest rides," Kriske said. "And we're like, 'oh we should actually check this out, because it might be cool. Like a history in action kind of thing."
Kriske and two of his friends were originally placed under arrest with the rest of the marchers, but the police let them go. He said the officers used pepper spray on some of the concert goers.
The police brought in two city buses to haul away people headed for jail. Of those 102 people arrested, 87 were tagged and released, and 15 were booked.
The arrests are the first big law enforcement event to occur in Minneapolis since the beginning of the RNC in St. Paul earlier this week. But the situation did not involve the violence and property damage that marked the largest protest of the week last Monday.
(Minnesota Public Radio News reporter Tom Weber contributed to this story.)
- Morning Edition, 09/04/2008, 7:40 a.m.