Terrorizing Dissent - the RNC 08 documentary
Glass Bead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia, and other independent media activists have released a new film, 'Terrorizing Dissent', an exposé of events at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Featuring first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on the streets, 'Terrorizing Dissent' focuses on the story of dissent suppressed. People charged with "conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism" speak out against the government's campaign to manipulate media coverage and label civil disobedience and community organizing as terrorism.
'Terrorizing Dissent' shows the results of the $50 million dollars the Department of Homeland Security gave to local authorities for security — a large chunk of which went to weaponize the police — and the $10 million insurance policy contract between the RNC Host Committee and the City of St. Paul, which shattered Minnesota's civil compact between protesters and police.
Effectively, the Republican National Committee provided financial cover for the widespread, organized suppression of dissent. The FBI and Secret Service coordinated with local police to raid homes and work spaces before the RNC even began. On the streets, the government's intimidation strategy shut down peaceful protests through the heavy use of tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and other projectiles. This excessive use of force followed months of harassment and surveillance of community activists. At every stage, local officials have refused to release the documentation behind what they did, from the origins of dubious search warrants to joint powers agreements.
The Republican Party's efforts to control the message and crush dissenting voices were led by one of the top local Republicans, troubled Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who personally spearheaded the "pre-emptive raid" strategy and spun the media by claiming captured household items were weapons (most notably, the buckets of recycled grey water he dubbed "urine"). At every stage, from fake urine to riot threats, messages of fear were distributed to chill Minnesotans from exercising their First Amendment rights.
Just days before Fletcher launched high-profile preemptive raids against protesters, two of his closest aides, Mark Naylon and Timothy Rehak, were found guilty on federal charges after they attempted to steal $6,000 in an FBI sting. To shore up his murky political future, Fletcher staged an authoritarian spectacle unparalleled in Minnesota history.
As local Democratic officials cautiously stepped back, Fletcher put himself in front of a classic "security theater" media campaign to create a non-existent enemy, equate civil disobedience with terrorism, and move in to attack peaceful protests. This plan culminated with the blocking and flashbang bombing of a peaceful march organized by anti-war activists on September 4th as John McCain delivered his acceptance speech at the Xcel Center.
Within weeks, John McCain's campaign turned to attacking Barack Obama on the same grounds as the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group that provided logistical help such as housing, food and a convergence center for demonstrators.
This rapidly produced "election cut" shows how the government — even in a liberal state like Minnesota — easily rolled over to domestic militarization and criminal abandonment of Constitutional freedoms. As the Republican National Convention paved the way for a fall of terrifying national instability and financial chaos, Americans need to know about the techniques used to silence Minnesota.
Portland Anti-imperialists are proud to show Terrorizing Dissent at the Red and Black Cafe (400 SE 12th Ave) on November 11 at 7pm. After the video, stay for Q&A from those who were there. As always, a safer space policy is in effect.
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