Protest March Peaceful, but 13 Arrested Off Designated Route
Thousands of anti-war protesters today participated in a march on the Republican convention, with a main procession that was peaceful, but 13 were arrested after diverging from the city-designated route. Some tires were allegedly slashed and windows were broken, sources said.
The protesters began their march at the state Capitol and made their way down to the Xcel Energy Center, the home of the Republican convention, and then proceeded back to the Capitol.
The police were out in force. Groups of officers on bicycles were circling the rally, and police in riot gear were present along the route. Officials sent 150 soldiers from the National Guard to help with crowd control near the Xcel Center.
The march was organized by a coalition of organizations from the Twin Cities as well as the rest of the nation.
Thousands rallied at the state Capitol representing a variety of issues. Most protesters were objecting to the war in Iraq, including the groups Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. Many were also against the election of McCain, with some holding signs such as Hes not MY president, McBush and 8 is enough.
Immigrant groups were represented as well. The Twin Cities has a large Hmong and West African immigrant population, and both had large turnouts. South American immigrants called loudly for immigrant rights.
Groups that had protested in Denver at the Democratic National Convention also came to St. Paul, including CODEPINK.
In a precautionary measure, the American Civil Liberties Union was seen handing out pamphlets detailing protesters rights. However, one person handing out such information described it as only a precautionary measure, expecting that the event would be family friendly. Protest officials were also present to buffer relations between the protesters and police.
Before todays event, 15 arrests were made six in raids and nine on trespassing charges. The raids were made against the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist group that, according to police, was planning criminal acts. Along with the arrests, buckets of urine, metal pipes, wrist rockets and other items that could be used in a violent demonstration were found.