Citizens Expose Perpetrators, Help Victims of RNC Police Violence
Broad coalition demands response to documented incidents and calls for public support
St. Paul, MN — At a press conference today at the State Capitol, a diverse group of concerned citizens expressed outrage at the efforts of St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington and Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher to portray violence at the Republican National Convention as protestor-led. Videos and photographs revealed today were just some of numerous sources showing that the overwhelming majority of confrontations were a direct result of police over-reach and brutality.
“The documented evidence reveals, in no uncertain terms, that hundreds of assaults by unidentifiable, black-clad, masked individuals did occur in the streets of St. Paul during the RNC,” said Bill Drebenstedt, member of the Anti-War Committee and activist in CRASS. “Contrary to the well-publicized accounts, however, these individuals were the police.”
St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington boasts that his department is in possession of over 6,000 hours of city surveillance camera footage of RNC “incidents,” but the City of St. Paul has refused to release any of this video in response to requests under the MN Data Practices Act. This footage is believed to contain crucial evidence of brazen attacks on citizens, as well as proof that many people facing criminal charges are innocent..
“Chief Harrington and the city should release all footage available,” said Rachel Bengtson, Vice President of the MN chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and CRASS activist. “It is undemocratic and troubling that evidence should reside solely in the hands of those whose conduct is in dispute. We, as concerned citizens, call for public participation in this pursuit of justice.”
Over 800 people were arrested during the RNC, including journalists, medics, legal observers, activists, and bystanders; hundreds are still facing charges, even as the city refuses to give their legal defenders video of alleged crimes.
About CRASS — Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure is a non-hierarchical coalition of RNC arrestees and community allies, including local groups such as Coldsnap Legal Collective, National Lawyers Guild – MN, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Anti-War Committee, Twin Cities Indymedia, and Veterans for Peace.
CRASS provides multifaceted support to those arrested during the 2008 Republican National Convention to ensure that all interested arrestees have the support necessary to fight their charges and stand up for free speech. The first meeting of arrestees and supporters took place two days after the end of the convention and meetings have continued regularly since. CRASS has a travel fund available to aid arrestees in returning to the Twin Cities for their court dates, is actively working on court solidarity strategies to support those still facing charges, and is dedicated to aiding and facilitating civil suits. For more information, visit RNCaftermath.org
About Terrorizing Dissent — A new documentary produced in seven weeks after the RNC by Glass Bead Collective of New York and Twin Cities Indymedia, “Terrorizing Dissent: Election Cut” exposes new footage of police misconduct, as well as interviews with community organizers and others facing serious charges. This film was created from footage provided by dozens of contributors, and is available for free via its website. Many video stills presented Thursday are featured in “Terrorizing Dissent.” For more information, visit TerrorizingDissent.org
URLs to images presented at Thursday’s press conference:
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