Two Minneapolis City Council members are decrying tactics by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, whose office conducted raids in Minneapolis and St. Paul this weekend under a joint-powers agreement for the Republican National Convention.
DFLer Elizabeth Glidden, a lawyer, and the Green Party’s Cam Gordon say Fletcher’s forces acted excessively and have created a climate of “fear and intimidation for those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights.” The duo say constituents fear “their home or meeting place may be at risk because they are on an email list, attended a workshop or meeting, or helped feed and house out-of-town activists.”
Here’s their statement:
On Friday August 29th, a large, peaceful Critical Mass bike ride occurred in Minneapolis where protesters, passersby and police conducted themselves in a civil and respectful way — a hopeful beginning to the Republican National Convention and related protest events, marches, and citizen journalism.
On Friday evening and Saturday morning, homes in Minneapolis and a place of assembly in St Paul were raided by law enforcement; residents were detained and property seized. These actions were initiated, to our knowledge, by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Although we do not have the information available to law enforcement, we are concerned that the level of force used during these raids does not appear to match the alleged threat posed.
The seizure of the Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus (Permibus), young activists pulled over in their van at Lake [Street] and 11th Avenue and detained by law enforcement with weapons drawn, and other reported events are actions that appear excessive and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights.
During the challenging days ahead we urge a focus on creating a secure atmosphere of nonviolence that will allow and encourage people to participate in political speech. While violence and property damage by protesters or others should not be tolerated, neither should there be a chilling effect on free speech.
We have been contacted by many who are concerned that their home or meeting place may be at risk because they are on an email list, attended a workshop or meeting, or helped feed and house out-of-town activists.
We thank our Minneapolis police and others for their hard work to prepare for this momentous event and know — as evidenced by the Critical Mass ride this past Friday — that they are well able to keep the peace and respect First Amendment rights of nonviolent protesters.
Let’s send the right message — with a focus on maintaining order and peace while creating a safe space for free speech and political expression.
We encourage all residents and visitors to feel safe and welcome to express themselves and hope that everyone will show up on Labor Day at the State Capital to make their voices heard.