Yesterday several OSP activists were present for the Re-Occupy event at Peavey Plaza and Loring Park in Minneapolis. As planned, members of OSP Tactical contributed to this event by providing non-violent bodyguard protection for citizen media. Unfortunately, that protection definitely turned out to be needed, as Minneapolis PD attacked not only citizen media but even the mainstream press:
Once again, the bodyguard tactic was a success- every media person with a bodyguard was able to avoid arrest and keep filming despite multiple arrests going on all around them.
The first action I participated in was the march to the home of US Bank CEO Richard Davis. The callous indifference of some members of the 1% was on full display on a Mazda Miata we passed in Mr. Davis' neighborhood. In the midst of the most protracted economic crisis in many decades, the owner of this vehicle still displays a bumper-sticker with the phrase "will work for hundreds of thousands of dollars."
When we reached the mansion belonging to Mr. Davis, there were twenty-two police squad cars, a police SUV and a paddy wagon in the immediate vicinity. I think we all know that you or I would not receive protection like that if we requested it!
Later that day at Peavey Plaza, we were informed that the police had dusted off an obscure ordinance from the early 70s to ban us from having any structures up in Peavey Plaza despite a prior court ruling that such structures were protected speech. The courts have already ruled that Occupy can put up tents in public spaces for the purpose of protest- the city can prevent us from sleeping in them, but not from putting them up. However, the Minneapolis PD apparently decided that their "public nuisance" ordinance trumped both the First Amendment and the courts.
When the police arrived to enforce this ordinance later that evening, we began to march through the streets carrying the tents in protest. Occupy marches in the street have always previously been tolerated by the Minneapolis PD. We reached Loring Park, where we found out that three Occupiers had been cited and released on arbitrary charges such as riding a bicycle in an area designated as a walkway. We were informed that the police intended to evict us from Loring Park, and there were a number of squad cars present.
We decided to march back to Peavey to try to re-claim that space. This was when we began using bodyguards for citizen media. I was watching out for Nick Rogue of Rogue Media, and one other member of OSP Tactical was watching out for an OSP livestreamer. (I'm not using names here because I haven't asked them if that would be okay.) At Peavey, there were approximately thirty police on foot in the vicinity of the Plaza, along with three mounted police, many squad cars and a huge mobile command center.
After they informed us again that we would not be allowed to have tents in the park, we once again resumed marching. At a certain point, the police began to form a "kettle." This is a police tactic where all escape routes are blocked off so protesters can either be trapped in one place or subjected to mass arrests. One of the prime duties of a non-violent bodyguard is to keep the livestreamers from getting caught in a kettle. I was able to spot the kettle forming and keep Nick Rogue on the outside of it so he could keep filiming.
At this point, the mounted police suddenly flanked the marchers and blocked off the street, and the other police attacked the march from behind. One officer assaulted the Channel 5 cameraman as he was doing his job, destroying a video camera worth tens of thousands of dollars. Another video camera belonging to citizen media was also destroyed. Eleven Occupiers were arrested, and several sustained minor injuries from being tackled and slammed to the ground.
Nick Rogue showed great boldness in getting extremely close to the arrests in order to document what was happening. One mounted officer repeatedly rammed into him with her horse to try to intimidate him into moving away- the horse was actually so close to him at one point that it started trying to eat his hair, and he was only able to keep filming by holding on to a lamp-post with one arm. I confronted her verbally and insisted that she stop bumping the horse into him. Once he had the footage he needed, we got out of there.
The rest of the night was a vigil in front of the jail until we had succeeded in bailing out all of our arrested comrades by about six AM.
The events at Re-Occupy demonstrate that the determination of authorities to crush dissent extends even to physically assaulting members of the mainstream media and destroying their equipment. The importance of the bodyguard initiative for our own media is also going to be increasingly important as we move on into the spring.
I'll close with a brief anecdote about our presence at this event. At one point when conferring with another member of OSP Tactical on the street, I heard one member of Occupy Minneapolis say to another: "Oh, those guys are from Occupy Saint Paul?"
The other guy replied "They're all over the place, there's a ton of them here tonight!"
In reality, there were only several of us, but I believe we made a real and valuable contribution.
Here is some more of Nick Rogue's footage:
You can find photos of the arrests here:
Thanks for your time,