I-Witness Video Blog : The Policing of Protest
Thursday, 4 Sep 2008
At about 2:45 this past afternoon (Sept. 3), police wielding batons and a battering ram entered the professional office building on Selby Avenue in St. Paul where I-Witness Video is renting work space.
Geneva Finn, an attorney with the National Lawyer's Guild went to head off the police. After the police left, she made this statement at an impromptu press conference on the street:
A few minutes ago, one of our legal observers called me to the door. I saw the St. Paul police unloading a bunch of equipment from their cars and they saw me at the door. They saw me at the door, they motioned me forward. I came forward to their cars. They told me that they had reports that somebody was holding somebody hostage in the building, that there had been a kidnapping. They told me that somebody, an undercover had told them, that the anarchists were holding people hostage in our building.
I work for the NLG [National Lawyers Guild] here, we have, we're working at one of our lawyer's offices, I said, "Is it in our law office?" They said "No, it's upstairs." They then came into the building with me, I showed them what was going on upstairs. They did a pull-up on the frame of I-Witness' door, looked in, saw that there was people in there, nobody was being held hostage. I then asked the police to leave, since no one was obviously being held hostage here, and they refused. Eventually their head sergeant came here, and decided that they could leave the building.
Anarchists taking hostages? Kidnapping?
This is extraordinary, folks. The St. Paul police came after us with unfounded allegations that we were engaged in criminal behavior. This harassment has interfered with our ability to do the work of documenting the policing of protests that we have come to St. Paul to do. They were able to put pressure on the landlord to do something that they could not force under the law. We were informed that, as a result of all of the commotion, our landlord wanted us to leave the premises immediately.
We packed up our belongings as quickly as possible and were welcomed at the offices of Free Speech TV in St. Paul, for which we are deeply grateful.