There is no doubt that there has been a massive, massive denial of basic constitutional rights as protected by the Bill of Rights and this repression has taken place "under color of law." Every Minnesotan concerned about our Constitutional Rights protected by the United States Bill of Rights should become a Plaintiff in a lawsuit against the police and the politicians and their bureaucrats who did intentionally, and with malice, set out to maliciously and violently trample upon the rights we have which are protected by the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
I think it is good that people are questioning what went on during the Republican National Convention... attacks on democracy should always be challenged; democracy must be fought for at every opportunity lest we lose our democratic rights--- limited as they are under this very repressive system of state-monopoly capitalism in the era of imperialism.
However, I find the concerns of many of these people to be very hypocritical since they only speak out when they feel "safe" as part of the "herd." They seldom speak out when the rights of working people are under attack--- daily, as in the case of casino workers.
The three commentaries below are excellent. All three of these very prominent individuals have joined in condemning the police violence and systematic suppression of democratic rights during the RNC. Their voices in defense of democracy are most welcome.
However, neither John Kolstad, who ran as the Green Party candidate for Attorney General, Peter Rachleff, the distinguished professor of history, nor Charley Underwood, a member of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Central Committee and peace activist and publisher of the "Peace Calendar," have ever demonstrated one iota of concern for the plight of casino workers whose daily lives are marked by this same kind of brutal suppression of their very basic human and constitutional rights by casino managements working in league with United States Information Services (USIS which is made up of former and retired FBI and CIA agents now working as union busters in private industry supplanting the notorious Pinkerton Detective Agency) the FBI and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
None-the-less, I find their commentaries very noteworthy and important even though their "concern" for democracy is very "selective" in excluding the rights of Minnesota's thirty-thousand casino workers... many of whom have been violently beaten, including in their own homes!, by the union-busting thugs (including the thugs of Blackwater) hired by the Indian Gaming Industry; many hundreds more have been subjected to the worst kind of intimidation by the likes of those like USIS "Special Agent" George Armstrong who has called and "visited" friends, neighbors and relatives of casino workers--- including making threats to small children as young as four years old!
In fact, the police misconduct is part of a longstanding "tradition" in Minnesota in denying working people their voices and views--- from the hanging of thirty-eight Native Americans in Mankato to the bloody battles on the Iron Range to organize the United Steel Workers of America to the company thugs hired by the forestry industry to the brutal and bestial methods of the trucking bosses to suppress unionization to the police and "red squads" trampling on the rights of Ford workers as the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party to the full-fledged McCarthyite drive to destroy the best organizations of working people, including the Minnesota Communist Party to the repression of the "left" in the trade union movement was being destroyed as a voice for all those who toil; more importantly, this is part of the intentional, long-standing process of corporate bosses denying working people the right to participate in the political process here in Minnesota--- and make no mistake, taking to the streets to vent anger at the Republicans for their part in driving down the standards of living of working people while sending their sons and daughters off to war, it is the right of working people to come together in protest and demonstration every bit as much as it is the right of Republicans to gather to organize in convention to further these attacks on the lives of working people. Somehow, for some reason, this aspect of the March Against the Republican National Convention has not been adequately conveyed. Perhaps because of media bias; perhaps because of the way the demonstration organizers have failed to convey this. Probably a combination of the two. It didn't help that most of "organized labor," the Democratic Party and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and the Obama Campaign (as distinct from Obama supporters) refused to participate in demonstrating against the Republican National Convention which convened in the Twin Cities for the sole purpose of attacking the working class and carrying out the aims of U.S. imperialism.
Charley Underwood, John Kolstad and Peter Rachleff are well aware of the systematic deprivation of human, civil and constitutional rights of Minnesota's thirty-thousand casino workers, but again, selectively choose to remain silent. Now that this same undemocratic, violent and brutal behavior has been extended--- and it is popular to voice opposition and support for democracy, they throw their voices into the mix.
So, to Charley Underwood, Peter Rachleff and John Kolstad, I say "Thanks for speaking up... even if you do so only when it is personally and politically convenient for you.
I would note, that Peter Rachleff has participated in a campaign to silence working people in restricting access to the list serve of the Working Class Studies Association; Charley Underwood refuses to stand up and voice his concerns to the MN DFL State Central Committee (and it was the Democratic Party and the Minnesota DFL which are primarily responsible for the violent, brutal and repressive behavior by the various local, state and federal police agencies during the Republican National Convention as both Mayors of the Twin Cities are prominent Democrats and the Prosecuting Attorney for most of the cases--- who gave her "seal of approval," or more properly, her "stamp" of approval to these most horrendous and undemocratic police actions--- is a leading Democrat, Susan Gertner, who is going to be running for Minnesota Governor on the MN DFL ticket, and no doubt Charley Underwood will give his support to her if she is the MN DFL endorsed candidate; and, John Kolstadt, even while running as the Green Party candidate for Minnesota Attorney General, refused to condemn the dirty campaign being waged against me by the casino industry--- a malicious and vicious campaign of lies and slander not seen in the State of Minnesota since the slanderous campaign aimed at destroying the political career of Minnesota's most popular ever governor, socialist Elmer Benson.
Like I say, be all this as it is, the views of Charley Underwood, Peter Rachleff and John Kolstad are most welcome... even if they don't care that my phone lines are tapped, my e-mail is tampered with, and the FBI, Homeland Security and the RCMP can come busting into my home whenever they want as they remain silent.
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 07:42:09 +1200 (NZST)
From: Charley Underwood
Subject: Re: [SPIF] after assessment
You are concerned that the police had a very difficult time distinguishing
between peaceful protesters and those who intended some sort of harm. You
even say "It's not like they some different sort of hats." In reality,
there were a number of people with clearly distinguishable hats and so on,
like medics, legal observers and members of the Minnesota Peace Team.
Each of these groups had at least some members arrested and/or pepper
sprayed. But here's an even easier way to go: How about the police arrest
people doing something illegal and police leave people alone when they are
simply marching or exercising their simple free speech! And how about
police arrest people who are doing something illegal instead of torturing
them with tasers or pepper spray or other chemical weapons! That way the
judge can do the judging and the police can do the enforcing. Sort of a
simple division of labor, in my opinion.
As for the concern about people hiding their identities, I think you are a
bit confused. There were very few people against the Republican National
Convention who wore disguises by covering their faces with bandanas and so
on. There were, on the other hand, literally thousands of storm troopers
who displayed neither personal identification nor unit identification.
Last week, it was near impossible to figure out who was police (and from
what city or even state), who was state troopers, who was ICE or Secret
Service or Homeland Security or private contractors. They all wore black
storm trooper outfits. I couldn't even usually identify what gender these
folks were. Those where the ones, in my opinion, who escaped
responsibility and accountability by hiding their identity behind
Date: Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 2:52 PM
From: Peter Rachleff
Subject: Police State during RNC
To: Melvin.Carter@ci.stpaul.mn.us, Russ.Stark@ci.stpaul.mn.us
Dear [StPaul council members] Melvin [Carter] and Russ [Stark]:
I am sure I am not alone in having thought of both of you as
"progressives." And I am sure I am not alone in no longer thinking of you
as "progressives." Your email responses to the many emails I am sure you
received easily adopt the "we" of the authorities.
This positions you with the likes of Bob Fletcher and Homeland Security.
And your emails conveniently ignore the police incursions into the
convergence space on Smith Avenue, private homes including Mike Whalen's
on Iglehart, private offices such as the one rented by I-Witness Video on
Selby, the targeting of journalists and videographers for arrest and
harassment, the intimidation of peaceful protestors, the harassment and
illegal detention of the 70 demonstrators riding the light rail to the
Mall of America on Sunday, August 31, the cutting off of the electricity
on Rage Against the Machine's performance at the state capitol on Tuesday,
September 2, contributing to the confrontation later at Mears Park, the
surrounding of Bedlam Theater in Minneapolis on Wednesday evening,
September 3, and more...
I know some of these events were in Minneapolis, but the police/thugs
appeared to be under a single command (Homeland Security? FBI? Fletcher?)
and not wearing distinguishing name or uniform insignia so, if you want to
stand with the authorities, you've got to take ownership of the
Minneapolis infringements on free speech and assembly, too. These events,
all expression of unbridled, unaccountable repressive power by the police,
set a context for every confrontation that unfolded during the overt
protests. 818 arrests. Were they all window-breaking "anarchists"? Last
week St. Paul sank to China's level, and I was - am - ashamed to live
here. As someone who has worked for 27 years for peace, justice, and
fairness in this community, I am heartsick at your response.
Sincerely, Peter Rachleff Professor of History Macalester College
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 2008 18:16:43 -0500
From: John Kolstad
To: Andy Driscoll
Cc: Russ Stark
Truth To Tell This Week
Subject: Re: responding to RNC inquiries
My wife and I have followed most of what went on from home on the
internet, since the main stream media is just about worthless, although I
was at the Permitted Anti war Parade on Labor Day. The video taped cases
of police abuse and criminal assault are many, many, many. Many of them
up on YouTube for the world to see what Mayor Coleman and Chief Harrington
have done to St Paul. The vicious arrest of Amy Goodman by Minneapolis
Police (but in St Paul) has gotten more hits than anything on Youtube.
Ch 9 video taped the two masked guys in black that broke Macy's window,
with a pipe and metal rack that just happened to be in front of the
windows, and even though there were cops everywhere it appears that these
vandals got a way. Hmmm! Is this police incompetence or were these
police contolled provocateurs? When I was there Monday for the parade, I
could not step on the sidewalk to greet a friend without the police
telling me I'd get arrested if I did not stay with the parade.
I have read reports of a Indy media person who said he had documentation
of the burning dumpster being pushed into the squad and the squad windows
being broke. In both cases he said that the police arrested the wrong
person for this vandalism and the vandal got away.
Again, is this incompetence or police provocateurs? Yet these are the
incidents that the media play over and over to give the impresssion that
there was much criminal activity by the protesters. This looks and smells
like a set up to me and the media were embedded. Hmmmmmmmm.
The police all along the parade route had video and still cameras. If any
of the things Mr Stark asserts are true, then certainly the police have
extensive documentation of it. However, if there is evidence and
documentation that the police arrested the wrong people and let the
vandals go (or were inept to catch them), then this is a gravely serious
situation of criminal corruption by the police. Although reports are as
yet incomplete, the only vandal caught that I am aware of was caught by
the protestors. The vandal slashed bus tires and the police did not catch
him, the public did. This case needs to be carefully looked at to make
sure that the captured vandal is the one the police prosecute and see if
he may be a provocateur.
There were many hundreds of indymedia, legal observers, and street Medics.
Not one single report from any of them has verified what Mr Stark asserts.
Even if some of these assertions are true, why did the authorities not
arrest the perpetrators? We know from past events that the police and
government hire provocateurs to do violence then the police and media
blame the legal, peaceful protesters, giving them the excuse to savage
citizens exercising their First Amendment right to Free Speech and
Peaceable Asssembly for redress of grievances.
I think Mr Stark should withdraw his assertion and apologize unless and
until he can clearly document all charges and assertions. Also, he should
reveal who he has been getting his information from. With St Paul facing
unprecedented humiliation for the conduct of the police and City Official,
plus multi million dollar lawsuits, it would not be surprising for
officials to do some spinning. Unfortunately the pay out from these
lawsuits come out of the public pocket. So first the cops abuse citizens,
and then when the cops lose in court, the public has to pay for it. This
is a double Whammy. May I humbly suggest that pay outs for lawsuits
involving police abuse come from the Police Retirement Fund. This would
give incentive to members of the force to stop or prevent actionable abuse
by collegues. Clearly police management has been a failure to accomplish
So Mr Stark, where's the beef or where's the apology and investigation?
John R Kolstad/Mpls
As I say, I find these comments from these three individuals very appropriate to the issues surrounding the Republican National Convention... I just wish their concerns were more universal towards the plight of working people and I hope that one day, they will sit down at their desks, pen in hand, and write about the plight of casino workers here in Minnesota who work, daily, without any rights under state or federal labor laws--- and without any rights under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights--- while at work... and, as Charley Underwood, John Kolstad and Peter Rachleff are fully aware... when workers have no rights at work, they have no rights in the communities or the state where they reside.
More than two-million casino workers are now employed in smoke-filled casinos across the United States at the more than 400 casinos comprising the Indian Gaming Industry. These two-million casino workers all receive poverty wages... all work without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws--- without any protections under the United States Constitution or Bill of Rights.
The Indian gaming Industry was created with the connivance of the Democratic Party.
I want to be very clear here because, for these more than two-million casino workers, the deprivation of their very basic and fundamental human rights is not limited to one occurrence during a Republican National Convention--- this brutal deprivation of their very basic and fundamental human and constitutional rights takes place at the hands of those who are funding the Democratic Party, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and the Universities: the owners and managements of this Indian Gaming Industry casino empire which includes Mystic Lake and Red Lake casinos and the casino empire managed by the big Democratic Party backers who own and operate the huge Grand Casino empire, the Fon Du Lac and Fortune Bay casino empires, etc.
Charley Underwood was so depressed after his candidate, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, lost out in the rigged DFL endorsing process--- but, Charlie Underwood does not understand how depressing it is for casino workers to have to live their complete lives in fear because the MN DFL, to which Charley Underwood is so dedicated to the point of failing to recognize that there is a pattern to war and political repression of which the Democratic Party is a part of the powerful apparatus designed to repress the entire working class.
Charlie Underwood, Peter Rachleff and John Kolstad have no clue to the real state of democracy in this country... they don't even understand, that for any casino worker to write letters as they have written and freely circulate concerning police repression around the RNC, for a casino worker to pen such letters would mean the immediate termination from employment.
If Charlie Underwood, Peter Rachleff or John Kolstad--- or anyone else for that matter--- doubt the truthfulness of my statement, they don't have a clue to what goes on in this country... recently I represented a casino worker fired from his job at Mystic Lake Casino simply for making a posting to his blog... concerning a discussion he had with Michael Cavlan who had been seeking the Green Party nomination for United States Senate but because of his support for working people and their struggles was denied the nomination--- the Minnesota Green Party shamefully chose to run no candidate for United States Senate rather than choose to endorse a champion of working class issues... and, Mike Cavlan was in the front lines at the RNC... treating those who were getting beaten and gassed by the police.
I share the concerns of John Kolstad, Peter Rachleff and Charley Underwood concerning what the police did during the RNC... I especially think John Kolstad raises a very important point regarding the possibility of the police using paid provocateurs in order to justify the wholesale abuse and deprivation of human, civil and constitutional rights.
I also notice that Charley Underwood, Peter Rachleff and John Kolstad also intentionally choose not to discuss the massive presence of riot police who turned out at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant on September 3 in order to prevent a peaceful picket advocating public ownership of the Ford Plant as a solution to two-thousand workers being thrown out into the streets as the plant closes and the hydro dam powering the operation since its existence turned over to a private corporation. Again, Underwood, Rachleff and Kolstad chose to intentionally ignore something in their writings on this issue even though it is directly related to the very same issue they pretend to be so concerned about--- police misconduct during the RNC.
I have sent my concerns to liberal St. Paul Council member, Mr. Thune, and received no response.
I will be publishing the hundreds of photos I took during the Labor Day March on the RNC along with the concerns of many of those who marched--- and those who were afraid to march because they feared the police, fears which were, as we now know, well founded, and was no doubt responsible for drastically limiting (along with the heat and short-sightedness of the organizers [another issue I will be addressing in future blogs]) the numbers of marchers.
December 10, 2008 will mark the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights... we need to focus the police misconduct in the context of the U.N Declaration of Human Rights because this police misconduct is part and parcel of denying working people the right to participate fully in the decision-making processes which the U.N Declaration of Human Rights is all about.
We must never forget that it was actions like what we have witnessed which tried to destroy the Communist Party here in Minnesota and destroyed the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party while trying to destroy organized labor which has left the working class without voices in the political process. When capital could not beat radical ideas from the working class, the bosses bought off a significant segment of working class leaders like AFL-CIO President, Ray Waldron, who has remained shamefully silent regarding the police misconduct during the Republican National Convention... no doubt, when "at-will hiring, at-will firing" won't succeed in thwarting organizing drives under "card check" legislation, these same police thugs in riot gear will be out in force confronting workers on picket lines demanding better lives. I wonder if Charley Underwood, Peter Rachleff and John Kolstad will speak out then? If their lack of concern for the plight of casino workers is any indication, I doubt we will be hearing from them.
For a country, governed by a bunch of politicians from the corporate dominated Democratic and Republican parties boasting that the United States is the world's great bastion of democracy, the presence of riot squads in the Twin Cities organized more like rogue bands of the KKK or the pogromists of old Tsarist Russia leaves us all with something to contemplate and ponder as we sit around our dinner tables.
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council