'Buried' video surfaces of police making mass arrests during the Republican National Convention

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

A video has surfaced which shows police in St. Paul, Minnesota arresting over 200 people at a city park during the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on September 1, 2008. The video first appeared on YouTube which was then picked up and reported on by the political news websites Alternet.org and Blue Linchpin. Glass Bead Collective (GBC), which had interviewed the author of one of the buried videos, was preemptively raided before the RNC according to an interview published on Democracynow.org.

The video, which had been buried in the park's ground by the author only known as 'Wes', shows hundreds of people, protesters and others who were there to only to attend the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) concert and were not part of the convention at all; talking amongst themselves or passing through. Nearly 400 armed police officers, dressed in full riot gear, then began to surround them. Some officers were on bicycles while others were on horses. Some people began to yell for help while others complained that the officers cut them off from water and the use of restrooms for at least an hour. One video shows police shooting canisters of tear gas and percussion grenades at seemingly peaceful protesters, some who were on bicycles, were running and screaming for help.

According to another video posted on Alternet.org, among those arrested were people just passing through or were there to use its services. It also states that the National Guard was dispatched to the park. When the narrator of one of the videos asks the police what the police are waiting for, he replies "we are waiting for them [other officers] to let us know when we can let you leave." Several minutes later, police began to arrest everyone they surrounded.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you are [all] under arrest. Please be seated, place your hands on your head and cooperate with us," stated a police officer speaking through a megaphone. In the background one female is heard saying, "Are you serious?"

The Glass Bead Collective tells Wikinews that 'Wes' was charged with "felony rioting" but that after spending three days in jail, "his charges were downgraded to misdemeanors right before he saw the judge". GBC also tells Wikinews that about a week after being released, 'Wes' went back to the park and retrieved his videotape.

It is not known if anyone was injured nor if any individuals remain in jail. Reports say that 800 people were arrested during the convention, with nearly 20% of those being the people inside the park.