At RNC, Arraignments Begin And Arrests Continue
RNC Security Worker Among Those Arrested
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ST. PAUL – Hundreds of people arrested during a crackdown on free speech in the first days of the Republican National Convention (RNC) were arraigned yesterday. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota assembled teams of attorneys to offer legal services at the proceedings.
“There have been hundreds of arrests, and we expect hundreds more, but the number of arrested is not nearly matched by the number of crimes committed. Most of these people are being picked up for doing nothing other than exercising their right to be out in public,” said Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Minnesota.
Most of the people arraigned yesterday were charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor and felony charges even though they were swept up in mass arrests while exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and peaceable assembly. Among those arrested were a RNC security worker on his way to work and several journalists attempting to cover the protests outside the convention. Dozens more were arrested yesterday while watching a Rage Against The Machine concert.
Attorneys have objected that bail for those arrested at the RNC is being set unreasonably high – in some cases as much as $2,000. They have also expressed concern about the atmosphere at the law enforcement center where those arrested are being detained. The building is surrounded by eight foot high chain link fence and patrolled by National Guard troops. There are also several teams of police officers in riot gear. Nobody is allowed to enter the complex without ID, and only attorneys are allowed to carry any bags into the building.
“The police presence is scary. The Law Enforcement Center – the jail – looks like something you would find in Baghdad, not in St. Paul,” said Samuelson.
The national ACLU has called for an investigation into any civil liberties violations at the RNC. That statement is available online at: www.aclu.org/freespeech/protest/36636prs20080904.html
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