From: Alan Maki [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 8:36 AM
To: 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Cc: 'Eric Lee'
Subject: Re: Democracy and the anti-democratic Policy of the St. Paul Police Department and City of St. Paul
Like the guy in your story, the St. Paul police detained me on Election Day for “taking pictures of the Ford Plant” and handing out leaflets advocating public ownership as the solution to saving the Plant, hydro dam and two-thousand jobs--- an alternative Senator Norman Coleman and other politicians refuse to consider in spite of all their empty rhetoric around election time on this issue. The police came out of nowhere and blocked off half of Ford Parkway claiming they “had a complaint of a stranger taking unauthorized photographs.” Several officers held me while another took my wallet out of my pocket and searched it for identification. After I complained to the Mayor, the police later--- about three months later--- “apologized” in a telephone call, saying they were “sorry for the inconvenience.” This is very typical behavior on the part of the St. Paul Police Department from what I understand in talking to others. One has to wonder if such anti-democratic conduct is not part of the training process of the St. Paul police department. I have photographs of the police detaining me and blocking off Ford Parkway as if I was some kind of bank robber or terrorist. In fact, the Sergeant on the scene who physically assaulted me by twisting my arm behind my back as another pulled my hair stated so another officer could grab my wallet stated, “In this day and age of terrorism we have a right to be concerned about a stranger taking unauthorized photographs.”
Police, concerned about the “crimes” of leafleting and photographing! Aren’t there some lights turning on upstairs in the dead-heads passing themselves off as elected officials?
The St. Paul Police and Ford Security routinely prohibit, under threat of arrest, the distribution of leaflets concerning the future of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant outside the doors of the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center even though there are newspaper stands at these same doors and tax-payer dollars have financed this “public” institution.
The time has come for a real in-depth story on the state of democracy in St. Paul.
The real question is: Why hasn’t the American Civil Liberties Union sued the St. Paul Police Department and the City of St. Paul already?
I had been intending to participate with a group of people leafleting the Obama event at the Xcel Center concerning saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant but I knew, from my past experience and run-in with the St. Paul police department that they would be out to harass people for exercising their First Amendment Rights and I figured it wasn’t worth the hassle… I wonder how many other people have been intimidated from participating “in the democratic process” in the same way? And then these same cops and politicians boast about the United States being the worlds’ greatest democracy.
While all of this police repression of our democratic rights goes on and continues unabated the circus in the Cities continues with politicians hypocritically calling for “citizen participation;” yes, come participate; get slapped around by the police; have your picture put in a police “red-squad” file, get detained; get arrested… get ticketed and tossed into a police car and driven ten blocks away and left off… what comes next? The Gestapo?
I am told by a St. Paul elected public official that the St. Paul Police Department together with the FBI and Homeland Security have been monitoring my postings on the “Labour Start” Facebook page. What the heck is going on in this country?
Alan L. Maki
St. Paul police to apologize for detaining antiwar activist
By PAT PHEIFER and RANDY FURST, Star Tribune
June 5, 2008
St. Paul police said Thursday that they will apologize to an antiwar organizer who was detained Tuesday outside the Obama campaign rally at the Xcel Energy Center for handing out leaflets promoting a Sept. 1 march on the Republican National Convention.
The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said the arrest of Mick Kelly, 50, of Minneapolis, does not augur well for the way authorities will treat protesters during the convention.
"We're concerned the police so quickly violated Mick Kelly's First Amendment rights," Charles Samuelson said.
Mayor Chris Coleman said Thursday that he did not think the arrest presages anything about how convention protests will go. "It just says we need to educate our officers," he said. "The First Amendment is a core value of me as mayor and [John] Harrington as [police] chief.
Coleman praised police for moving quickly "to correct what was a mistake." He added, "We are going to move quickly to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Tom Walsh, a St. Paul police spokesman, said police initially believed that Kelly's leaflet distribution was in violation of an ordinance that prohibits peddling within a certain distance of the Xcel Center.
"But it's not," he said. "It's a free speech issue. He wasn't selling or vending, so in this case he was within his rights."
The citation will be dismissed, Walsh said, and the event commander, Cmdr. Joe Neuberger, will apologize to Kelly. Walsh said free speech issues will be part of the training officers receive for the convention. That training has begun but has not been completed, he said.
Walsh said there were no other arrests at the event. Peddlers (who had been selling campaign souvenirs) who were within the radius of the ordinance were asked to move and did, he said.
"It was an impromptu event," Walsh said. "A limited amount of resources were available. ... The safety and security of people attending the event was our priority."
Jack Larson, vice president and general manager of the Xcel Center, said he thought the ordinance barred leafleting on the Xcel sidewalks, but learned Thursday that it referred only to peddling.
If it happens again, he said, he might ask police to check to make sure the leafleteers were not peddling.
Coordinating activists Kelly, a member of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, was coordinating five activists who handed out 3,000 fliers to supporters of Barack Obama. Xcel security told him that he could not leaflet in front of the Xcel, and when he continued, police were called.
Kelly said police officers told him to leave. "I said, 'That's not right. I don't have to leave. I'll continue leafleting.'"
He said he was put in a police car, driven about 10 blocks, issued a citation and released. He said he hurried back to the Xcel to hand out more fliers.
Kelly's arrest was witnessed by Teresa Nelson, an ACLU attorney who fired off an e-mail to the St. Paul city attorney's office, protesting the arrest.
The city attorney's office referred a reporter's questions about the ordinance Thursday to Bob Kessler, St. Paul's director of safety and inspections. Kessler said the ordinance was designed to stop ticket scalpers who were creating congestion.
Kelly is part of a group that objects to the route the police gave for the Sept. 1 antiwar march to the Xcel.
"I'm angry because we have the right to speak out against the war," he said. "The city's talk about all of St. Paul being a free speech zone is a joke."
email@example.com • 651-298-1551 firstname.lastname@example.org • 612-673-7382
A comment: Mr. Kelly has a right to be angry.
A question: Why haven't we heard similar anger coming from Obama, the Democratic Party and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party?
Is this kind of police behavior part of what we can expect from an Obama Presidency?
Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
Check out my blog:
Thoughts From Podunk