This is my first, live report from the action in St Paul and Minneapolis. It will be brief and followed by more as my primary concern is acting as a Street Medic, treating some of the victims of police brutality here.
First, let me assure you that despite the flat out lies being portrayed in the corporate media, each and every attack by police here was unprovoked and upon peaceful protesters. Where there have been acts of violence from the "anarchists" has been a reaction to these unprovoked attacks. I can personally testify to this as I am unencumbered by corporate media editors and so am free to tell the truth. Corporate media journalists are also witnessing this but not reporting it.
As many of you know, this started a week before the RNC. Minneapolis and St Paul police raided the houses of local activists, detained some and then raided the house where out of town journalists were staying, taking their video equipment.
In the weeks before the Republicans came to town, myself and other local activists helped organize clinics and networks for the local and out of town Street Medics. We were to be very busy and of course it is not over yet.
There was a march, thru downtown St Paul that had about 30,000 people. It was quite peaceful. Apparently, the police will not attack large marches only smaller ones, as we were to find out. I worked Medic duty for this one. We had arrived at the Capitol in St Paul, when I started getting calls. The police were firing rubber bullets, concussion grenades and deploying tear gas and other chemical weapons downtown. I rushed to get downtown and like all the rest of us, met a wall of police. They had cordoned off all of downtown. None of us could get in to help our friends in a smaller march of young people.
I and others went back to the clinic site and waited. After a few hours, no-one was coming in. It turns out that masses were getting tasered, maced, pepper-sprayed and arrested. This of course includes Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Street Medic duty became jail support. Those of us who were Nurses, worked with NLG lawyers and called the jails, with lists of people and did our best to ensure that people who needed medications got them. Many had originally not but apparently our work paid off.
There were events everywhere, including free concerts at the Capitol. I was deployed to the Poor People March at Pears Park in St Paul. At first it was quiet, with speeches etc. Then the police arrested a journalist with her video camera. Many in the crowd ran to this, including myself and my team buddy. Medics worked in teams because police would snatch up single medics and no-one would know they were gone until it was too late.
At this point, I was what is called a marked medic. I had on light blue scrub tops with a large Red Cross taped on my chest, arms and backpack. I hear "we need a medic over here" so we responded. Apparently, the police had maced a member of the "Minnesota Peace Team." These were all people marked in bright green vests, who were working with the police to contain violence. The two that were maced, full in the face were both 70 year old men. For the record, the peace teams had been very successful in de-escalating violence. I ran over and treated one and my buddy treated the other one. While I was doing so, someone from the crowd ran over and said "buddy, get out of here, I heard the cops say 'get the medic in blue.'"
I hightailed out of there, ditching my blue scrubs. Ironically, as I did so a young man has a seizure, fell and hit his head hard right in front of me. I was still a medic, just unmarked now. I and others treated him until an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital. Again, for the record we were now getting reports that the police were specifically targeting journalists and medics all over. We were also receiving reports of mass arrests of legal marches and people being beaten at the SEIU Rally, Whipple Free Concert and elsewhere.
By this time, the Poor People's March had left so I joined them. We marched to the Ramsey County Jail where hundreds had been taken as a show of solidarity to them. During this march, there were at least three undercover cops were discovered and outed. We then marched to the Capitol. Rage Against The Machine had set up a free concert there but then the police banned it. So the attendees joined us and we marched back to downtown St Paul. We marched right up to the Excel Center, chanted for a while. At this time the police gave a dispersal order. We knew what that meant. They threw gas and concussion grenades into the crowd and then opened up with rubber bullets, wooden baton rounds, tear gas etc etc.
My team treated another young lady who had been maced in the face and delivered her to the clinic, to get cleaned up from the burning chemicals on her face, eyes, arms and clothes. By the way, this stuff hurts even when you only put your exposed skin on someone who was hit by it.