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CRACKDOWN BEGINS: Food Not Bombs homes, offices raided. Volunteers arrested.

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  • Timothy Baer
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAugust, 31, 2008 CONTACT:Keith McHenry - co-founder of the Food Not Bombs movementThe Food Not Bombs MovementP.O. Box 424, Arroyo Seco,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2008
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
      August, 31, 2008


      CONTACT:
      Keith McHenry - co-founder of the Food Not Bombs movement
      The Food Not Bombs Movement
      P.O. Box 424, Arroyo Seco, NM 87514 USA
      575-776-3880 cell 575-770-3377
      menu@...

      Schedule a Food Not Bombs Presentation at your school
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net/speaker.html



      CRACKDOWN BEGINS: Food Not Bombs homes and offices raided. Volunteers
      arrested.
      Help Food Not Bombs feed the survivors of Gustav.
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net/gustav.html

      Crackdown Begins: Food Not Bombs House Among Saturday Raids Ahead of
      RNC. Food Not Bombs volunteer arrested in Denver and Berkeley office
      raided on Wednesday.

      As the all volunteer movement Food Not Bombs prepares to respond to
      Hurricane Gustav the police and FBI raid several Food Not Bombs houses
      in Minneapolis and a office in Berkeley where police seized 13
      computers.

      Zachary Patrick Grey, a University of Massachusetts student from
      Marion, Mass., was arrested at 1:40 p.m. Monday after a foot chase,
      according to a Denver County Court complaint. According to CBS 3 of
      Springfield, Mass., Grey belongs to a group called Pioneer Valley Food
      Not Bombs. The alleged feces was glass jar of coffee with soy milk.

      Several of those who were arrested are being represented by Bruce
      Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers'
      Guild. Nestor said that last night's raid involved a meeting of a group
      calling itself the "RNC Welcoming Committee", and that this morning's
      raids appeared to target members of "Food Not Bombs," which he
      described as an anti-war, anti-authoritarian protest group. There was
      not a single act of violence or illegality that has taken place, Nestor
      said. Instead, the raids were purely anticipatory in nature, and
      clearly designed to frighten people contemplating taking part in any
      unauthorized protests. Nestor indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50
      individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were
      actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were
      charged with is "conspiracy to commit riot." Four of those under arrest
      include Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Garrett Fitzgerald,Nathanael
      Secor. Emails asking the public to call St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
      651-266-8510 and Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak (612) 673-2100 have been
      sent out to call for their freedom. Efforts to get have the 13
      computers returned in Berkeley are also underway. The authorities have
      claimed activists have been planning to use urine and feces at both
      conventions.


      Food Not Bombs provides free vegetarian meals every week in hundreds of
      cities all over the world. Food Not Bombs volunteers provided free
      meals to the rescue workers at the World Trade Center after 9/11, to
      the protesters at the Orange Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine and fed
      survivors in nearly 20 communities in the gulf region of the United
      States in the months after Katrina. From Iceland to Chile, Nigeria, New
      Zealand, Israel and beyond thousands of Food Not Bombs volunteers will
      be sharing vegetarian meals, working for peace, planting gardens,
      fixing up bikes for poor children and responding to hurricanes and
      earthquakes. Please forward this to your local media and community
      groups.

      ###
      Food Not Bombs organizes food relief effort for the survivors of
      Hurricane Gustav. We fed the survivors of Katrina now we will help the
      survivors of Gustav.
      You can help. http://www.foodnotbombs.net/gustav.html

      Police: Protester arrested for dropping bottle of feces
      By Kirk Mitchell - The Denver Post
      http://www.denverpost.com/previous2/home/ci_10317143
      Zachary Patrick Grey, a University of Massachusetts student from
      Marion, Mass., was arrested at 1:40 p.m. Monday after a foot chase,
      according to a Denver County Court complaint. According to CBS 3 of
      Springfield, Mass., Grey belongs to a group called Pioneer Valley Food
      Not Bombs.
      The alleged feces was coffee with soy milk.

      Basis for UCPD Raid Remains Unclear
      By Ashley Trott - Daily Cal Staff Writer
      http://www.dailycal.org/article/102390/
      basis_for_ucpd_raid_remains_unclear

      UC Berkeley police, guns drawn, raided an empty Long Haul Infoshop
      Wednesday morning, seizing 13 computers and other gear in a search for
      the source of threatening e-mails.

      Crackdown Begins: Food Not Bombs House Among Saturday Raids Ahead of RNC

      By Paul Schmelzer, Minnesota Independent. Posted August 30, 2008.

      The police assault on civil liberties takes an early start ahead of the
      RNC.
      Tools


      http://www.alternet.org/rights/97027/crackdown_begins:
      _food_not_bombs_house_among_saturday_raids_ahead_of_rnc/


      Minnesota Indy RNC reporter Jeff Severns Guntzel is at the Minneapolis
      Food Not Bombs house, which was raided by police this morning. Facts
      are still coming in, but Guntzel says that at 8 a.m. neighbors near the
      home, located at 2301 23rd Avenue South, reported hearing a loud bang
      followed by yelling. A single police squad car was parked out front.
      When Guntzel arrived he saw eight or nine officers enter the house in
      what he says is a joint operation between officers of the Ramsey County
      Sheriff's Department, the Minneapolis Police Depatment, and the FBI.
      According to one witness who was in the house at the time of the raid,
      the action is related to last night's raid on the RNC Welcoming
      Committee's "convergence space." Several other spaces have been raided
      this morning.

      Around 9:20, two Minneapolis Police Property & Evidence trucks pulled
      up. Present were a Hennepin County Sheriffs' crime lab truck, a Ramsey
      County Sheriffs' squad and an MPD squad, plus at least four unmarked
      cars parked facing the wrong direction in traffic. Police tape is
      marking off the yard.




      Police conduct raids in preparation for RNC
      by Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio,
      Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio
      August 30, 2008
      http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/08/30/rnc_raids/

      Authorities have searched several homes in Minneapolis and one in St.
      Paul Saturday ahead of the opening of the Republican National
      Convention.

      St. Paul, Minn. — Police said the raids were the result of a long-term
      investigation into a group of more than 30 anarchists that call
      themselves the RNC Welcoming Committee. They said there were other
      groups, including Food Not Bombs, that were affiliated with the group,
      but those groups were not targets of the raids.

      The searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Deputies
      coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police
      departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
      "We're not just imagining an attack on the transportation plan. Now we
      can see that its real."
      - Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher

      Authorities said that the RNC Welcoming Committee had been planning and
      training to block delegates from getting to the convention in downtown
      St. Paul, to attack police lines and even break into the Xcel Energy
      Center, where the convention is scheduled to open Monday morning.

      Demonstrators have allegedly been gathering from dozens of cities
      around the country, preparing to converge on St. Paul for the
      convention.

      People at the scenes of the raids said police arrived unannounced and
      detained dozens of people for identification and questioning.

      Most, like Thomas Greiling, were quickly released. Greiling lives at a
      home searched on 23rd Ave. in Minneapolis. He said it was the second
      time police had questioned him in 24 hours.

      He'd been at a gathering in St. Paul raided Friday night, and Greiling
      said there was no reason for authorities to come to his home, too.
      Larger view
      Police show a search warrant to Sarah Coffey

      "It's just a pain in the ass, cause there's nothing going on here
      that's illegal. I'm not worried about it, it's just, it's just
      annoying," said Greiling.

      A few blocks away, Dave Bicking says his daughter, Monica, was one of
      the five people arrested in the raids. He said he thought police were
      trying to discourage people from legitimate expression outside the
      convention in St. Paul, rather than fight crime.

      "You know they're intimidating people from even coming to the
      demonstrations, so they're intimidating everybody, not just, you know,
      the anarchists or the whatever," Bicking said. "They're intimidating
      everybody when this news gets out from coming downtown to engage in
      even legally and permitted marches and the whole thing."
      Larger view
      A "caltrop" device, meant to puncture tires.

      But Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher showed off a wide array of what
      he said were makeshift weapons and devices meant to disable buses,
      block traffic and provoke violence.

      There were piles of high security bike locks, tire spikes made from
      bent sheet metal, a bow and arrow, slingshots, ropes, baseball bats,
      piles of literature and a giant color-coded relief map of downtown St.
      Paul.

      Fletcher lifted up one of three plastic pails partially filled with
      urine that he said anarchists had planned to pour into bags and
      balloons to throw at police in coming days.

      "Our job is to take every dangerous item out of their hands, so they
      can't utilize them. We have extensive investigative work, complete with
      a number of confidential reliable sources that have worked inside this
      area, this anarchist area," said Fletcher. "We know these items were
      going to be used, because we had sources that were working inside this
      organization."
      Larger view
      Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher

      The raids, though, sparked widespread legal debate. Geneva Finn, with
      the National Lawyer's Guild, was outside a home in Minneapolis cordoned
      off by police. She said legal challenges to the raids are already in
      the works.

      "It looks like the Minneapolis police are going to attempt and shut
      down this house on code violations, like they shut down the convergence
      space in St. Paul," said Finn. "We are going to attempt to prevent
      that. We're going to attempt to reopen the convergence site. You don't
      get to just remove people from their houses and board them up, because
      the police don't like what you're doing inside there."

      But other legal experts called the effort good police work.
      Larger view
      Raid results

      Notre Dame law professor Robert Blakey helped write federal criminal
      conspiracy law, and he says police are under no obligation to see if
      someone intends to act on plans to commit a crime, including civil
      disturbance.

      "When you conspire to do that, it's an agreement beforehand to do it,
      the agreement itself is criminal. It's often what they get drug dealers
      for; it's often what they get organized crime figures for--conspiracy,
      a separate and independent crime," explained Blakey.

      Authorities said there may be more actions as the Republican National
      Convention proceeds.


      Glenn Greenwald
      Saturday Aug. 30, 2008 12:44 EDT
      Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis

      [updated below (with video) - Update II - Update III - Update IV]
      http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/30/police_raids/
      index.html

      Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly
      intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of
      25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn,
      entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and
      forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers
      searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political
      pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and
      the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and
      detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a
      demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code
      violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent
      teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where
      suspected protesters were staying.

      Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which
      had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided.
      Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house,"
      where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and
      everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of
      any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids"
      who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly.
      Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews,
      which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

      In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a
      team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and
      black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them
      to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to
      move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the
      very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were
      forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took
      away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political
      materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house,
      an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described
      how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such
      as "Do you have Terminator ready?" as they lay on the floor in
      handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though
      they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest
      against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to
      raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.

      Several of those who were arrested are being represented by Bruce
      Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers'
      Guild. Nestor said that last night's raid involved a meeting of a group
      calling itself the "RNC Welcoming Committee", and that this morning's
      raids appeared to target members of "Food Not Bombs," which he
      described as an anti-war, anti-authoritarian protest group. There was
      not a single act of violence or illegality that has taken place, Nestor
      said. Instead, the raids were purely anticipatory in nature, and
      clearly designed to frighten people contemplating taking part in any
      unauthorized protests.

      Nestor indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were
      handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and
      charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is
      "conspiracy to commit riot." Nestor, who has practiced law in Minnesota
      for many years, said that he had never before heard of that statute
      being used for anything, and that its parameters are so self-evidently
      vague, designed to allow pre-emeptive arrests of those who are
      peacefully protesting, that it is almost certainly unconstitutional,
      though because it had never been invoked (until now), its
      constitutionality had not been tested.

      There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities
      here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those
      who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the
      site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on
      behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that
      funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing
      anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive
      preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order
      altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams
      and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than
      planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who
      have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of
      the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.

      UPDATE: Here is the first of the videos, from the house that had just
      been raided:



      Jane Hamsher has more here, and The Minnesota Independent has a report
      on another one of the raided houses, here.

      UPDATE II: Here is the video we took from the second house as the raid
      was occurring. We were barred from entering but spoke with neighbors
      outside as well as with Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota
      Lawyer's Guild, regarding these raids:



      Over at FDL, Lindsay Beyerstein spoke with the property owner whose
      house -- the fourth one we now know of -- was being raided while the
      raid was in progress, and Lindsay has details here ("About an hour and
      a half ago 20 to 30 heavily armed police officers surrounded the house.
      One of my roommates said 'I want to see a warrant' and she was
      immediately detained"). Meanwhile, Indy Media of Twin Cities -- an
      association of independent journalists in the area -- just told me that
      several of their journalists have been detained while trying to cover
      these raids. Their site, with ongoing updates, is here.

      The Uptake also has several reports of the various raids, including
      video of the raid at the property whose owner Bernstein spoke with as
      the raid occurred. That video includes an interview with a lawyer from
      the National Lawyer's Guild who was detained and put in handcufffs,
      explaining that the surrounded house is one where various journalists
      are staying. Additionally, a photojournalist with Democracy Now was
      detained at that house as well. So, both journalists and lawyers -- in
      addition to protesters -- have been detained and arrested even though
      not a single violent or criminal act has occurred.

      UPDATE III: FDL has the transcript of part of my discussion about these
      raids with the National Lawyer Guild's Minnesota President -- here.

      The Uptake has this amazing video interview with the Democracy Now
      producer who was detained today. As the DN producer explains, she was
      present at a meeting of a group called "I-Witness" -- which videotaped
      police behavior at the 2004 GOP Convention in New York and helped get
      charges dismissed against hundreds of protesters who were arrested. The
      police surrounded the St. Paul house where they were meeting even
      though they had no warrant, told them that anyone who exited the house
      would be arrested, and then -- even though they finally, after several
      hours, obtained a warrant only for the house next door -- basically
      broke into the house, pointed weapons at everyone inside, handcuffed
      them, searched the house, and then left. Here is a blog post from one
      of the members of I-Witness asking for help during the time when they
      were forced to stay inside the house (see the second post -- it reads
      like a note from a hostage crying out for help). This is truly
      repugnant, extreme police behavior designed to intimidate protesters,
      police critics and others, and it ought to infuriate anyone and
      everyone who cares about basic liberties.

      UPDATE IV: More here, including on the Federal Government's role in
      these raids.
      ###
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------------------------------------------------------------
      Food Not Bombs organizes food relief effort for the survivors of
      Hurricane Gustav

      You can help Food Not Bombs feed the survivors of Gustav
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net/gustav.html

      You can help Food Not Bombs feed the survivors of Katrina
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net/katrina.html

      Food Not Bombs feed the survivors of Katrina (Free Speech TV)
      http://sourcecode.freespeech.org/sc206NewOrleansAN

      Contribute to Food Not Bombs' food relief program for the survivors of
      Gustav
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net/dollar_for_peace.html

      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      SCHEDULE A FOOD NOT BOMBS PRESENTATION AT YOUR SCHOOL

      This is a great way to inspire activisim on your campus. Dates are
      still open for the fall semester. To schedule a presentation all us at
      575-770-3377.

      THE FOOD NOT BOMBS PRESENTATION
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net/speaker.html

      Keith McHenry
      co-founder of the Food Not Bombs movement
      P.O. Box 424
      Arroyo Seco, NM 87514 USA
      505-776-3880
      1-800-884-1136
      keith@...
      http://www.foodnotbombs.net

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