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Police Raid Anarchist Groups That Planned to Blockade Republican Convention:
Some political bloggers are buzzing about police raids targeting a self-described anarchist group, the "RNC Welcoming Committee," which was allegedly planning to disrupt the Republican convention. The AP's story about the raid is here. Some popular bloggers appear to be outraged by this: They are presenting the group as political protesters, just a bunch of peaceful kids, while the police are presented as overbearing thugs that are trying to intimidate them.

  But if the group's website is any guide to the group's plans, it's certainly unsurprising that the police are trying to stop the group from executing its plans. The website explains that the "goal for Day One [of the convention] is to blockade Downtown St. Paul, so that the only show worth watching is the one we create in the streets." It includes this invitation:
September 1st, 2008, we, the RNC Welcoming Committee, invite all anarchists and anti-authoritarians, all radicals and rabble-rousers, all those who are fed up with government lies and spectacles to show up ready for action and ensure that we leave no place for these expired politicians. What we create here will send the convention crashing off course into insignificance.
Among the plans for the convention listed on the group's website are efforts to blockade the convention and keep the delegates from meeting. One of the pages lists this three-tiered strategy:
Tier One: Establish 15-20 blockades, utilizing a diversity of tactics, creating an inner and outer ring around St. Paul's Excel Center, where the RNC is to take place.

Tier Two: Immobilize the delegates' transportation infrastructure, including the busses that are to convey them.

Tier Three: Block the five western bridges connecting the Twin Cities.
The page continues:
As the specific blockade sites are established, there may be a system of delegating some sites as "red zones" (prepared for self-defense), "yellow zones" (peaceful but assertive), and "green zones" (aiming to avoid any risk of arrest) so as to accommodate a wide variety of creative tactics and involve individuals with differing needs and talents.
To try to "blockade" the downtown area and stop the convention, the group divided downtown St. Paul into individual sectors and had different groups take on responsibility to engage in "3S" — "Swarm Seize, Stay" for each sector. According to the website, "Swarm Seize, Stay" is a three-step strategy that works as follows:
1. Move into/around Downtown St. Paul via swarms of varying sizes, from multiple directions, and with diverse tactical intentions.
2. Seize space through both hard (e.g., lockboxes) and soft (e.g., congestion), fixed and mobile, blockading methods.
3. Stay engaged with the situation in downtown St. Paul as long as necessary. Regroup. Reinforce.
  As you might guess, the police weren't about to let this plan play out. As best I can tell from news reports, the County Sheriff's Office obtained warrants to search a handful of so-called "hippie houses" (open group homes, apparently) and storage sites based on probable cause to believe that the members of the anarchist group had engaged in "conspiracy to riot" and either had evidence of the crime there or were themselves present. They executed the warrants and made a handful of arrests of the group's organizers. Although there are blog reports of a lawyer for the group being "arrested," it seems that it was only a temporary detention because he happened to be present when a warrant was executed. This is generally permitted, see Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93 (2005) (person present at scene handcuffed while warrant executed).

  If there's something wrong with what the police did here, it's not clear to me what it is. Perhaps the website is just a joke, and everyone knew it. I understand that the police had undercover agents infiltrate the group to establish that the plans were serious, and I imagine much of the cause in the warrant is from their undercovers. But if for some reason the whole thing is a joke and the police didn't get it, then the police are fools. And perhaps they raided the wrong house, whether because they had probable cause pointing them to the wrong place or because they executed the warrant incorrectly. If so, that's bad. But as far as I can tell, no one is disputing that the website is serious and the group really did plan what they said they were planning. And as best I can tell, no one seems to be suggesting that the warrant was executed at the wrong house. So at least so far, I don't see anything the police have done that is wrong or blameworthy.

  UPDATE: The anarchist group has posted a press release that has a part responding to police claims that the raids are legal:
The police may claim that the raid was executed according to protocol - however, the violence inherent in this action may only be a hint of the violence to be expected on Monday and beyond, and is only a hint at the violence perpetrated daily by the police.
Um, okay.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Violence Mars First Day of Republican Convention:
  2. Police Raid Anarchist Groups That Planned to Blockade Republican Convention:
Shertaugh:
Whoever these cops were, they should be shipped off to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border to find Obama.
8.31.2008 6:34pm
Shertaugh:
Whoever these cops were, they should be shipped off to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border to find Obama Bin Laden.

(Freudian slip? No. Just listening to Ann Coulter too much.)
8.31.2008 6:35pm
Hoosier:
Protecting free speech and lawful assembly against those who would prevent their exercise through Brownshirt tactics? That's what police should be doing.
8.31.2008 7:00pm
Fedya (www):
Since it's predictable that these people are going to claim their constitutional rights are being violated, any media type that interviews these people when the inevitable whining begins ought to ask them why they want to deny the delegates' 1A right of free assembly.
8.31.2008 7:02pm
Hoosier:
Shertaugh:

Oh. It was a mistake?

I thought maybe Obama was on the ground, scoping the Pakistan border for future bombing targets. I was gonna give him credit for putting his money where his mouth is.

You SURE he isn't there?
8.31.2008 7:03pm
Arkady:
I dunno, Orin. I read the website, and the vibe is Yippee. What would the cops bust them for? Conspiracy to commit street theatre?
8.31.2008 7:03pm
Mikeyes (mail):
After a discussion with Orin and net searching, I have to come to the conclusion that the RNC Welcoming Committee is most unwelcoming.

This is what happens when anarchists organize, they fail to understand that their activities will draw interest. Since they published their goals on a web site, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that they are up to no good. And they didn't expect to have a mole there? Even the Communist party knew they were being infiltrated, usually by the members who paid their dues on time.
8.31.2008 7:04pm
Gilbert (mail):
These groups would never have been taken seriously if the police didn't decide to raid them like this. No way they could have gotten this kind of attention on their own.

@Arkady, yes, 5 have been detained for conspiracy to commit riot and conspiracy to commit public disturbance.
8.31.2008 7:06pm
riptide:
Orin, unfortunately your post starts with a misleading assertion that this is about "local" cops. As you'll note from the stories you linked to, these raids were executed by the county sheriff, without consulting the St. Paul police department. That's step 1 in what went wrong here.

Note: The same thing happened on the east coast recently, in that the county SWAT team executed a drug warrant against a local mayor, who in the end turned out to be an innocent bystander... and who could have been detained during the investigation far more readily by the local cops. Perhaps failure to form local authorities increases the likeliness of things spinning out of control.
8.31.2008 7:07pm
Karen (mail) (www):
I've been hearing different accounts from different places. The Star Tribune's account focused mostly on the RNC Welcoming Committee and all the stuff they seized from them--rocks, slingshots, a few guns, and a big bucket of urine.

But what I've been hearing from other sources is that the Welcoming Committee wasn't the only group targeted. Most notably, a civil liberties group that videotapes cops at protests (and whose footage has been used to exonerate arrested protesters in the past) was also broken into. Also, apparently at least at some of the houses, the cops refused to present the warrant (assuming they had one).

I've got no beef with the police preempting serious vandalism or violent protest. But follow the legal process, show the warrants upon request, and don't go after people who are nefariously plotting to use *cameras*...
8.31.2008 7:09pm
OrinKerr:
riptide,

I 'll change the post --- I didn't mean to mislead. I'm curious, though, why is it relevant that this raid was executed by the county sheriff? County sheriffs around the country execute raids all the time, and I'm not aware of a theory by which the raid becomes illegal or suspect as a result of it.
8.31.2008 7:13pm
whit:

(Freudian slip? No. Just listening to Ann Coulter too much.)


you mean Ted Kennedy
8.31.2008 7:14pm
OrinKerr:
Karen,

It's perhaps worth noting that if the group that videotapes everything has evidence of crimes on their videotapes, their videotapes are valid targets of a search warrant under the Constitution even if they the videotaperrs are not in cahoots with the anarchist groups. See Zurcher v. Stanford Daily. Of course, your argument may be that even if it was perfectly legal, you think they still shouldn't have done this (assuming they did, which I guess we don't know yet).
8.31.2008 7:20pm
AKD:
Supposedly taken from the anarchist group's mission statement:

"We will be executing our right of free speech to take away the right of free speech from this specific party."

Which is just hilarious.

(note: "mission statement" and "anarchist" probably shouldn't be in the same sentence.)
8.31.2008 7:21pm
Scote (mail):

So at least so far, I don't see anything the police have done that is wrong or blameworthy


Has the vague "Conspiracy to Riot" statute ever been used before? Ever?
8.31.2008 7:21pm
NYer:
Orin, I'm sorely disappointed. You gave in! Please don't let this mean that you're going to cover H. Gustav too, because I'm pretty sure I would prefer that it actually never happens.
8.31.2008 7:23pm
Karen (mail) (www):
OrinKerr: That would be an argument for seizing their equipment *after* the protest--not before. As it stands, it looks more like the police removing a potential check on police brutality (even though hypothetical footage could, as you point out, be used to defend the cops as well).
8.31.2008 7:25pm
Scote (mail):
Note, you also omit the fact that in other related raids, journalists were arrested, journalists with I-Witness, known for videotaping embarrassing police violations of free speech and right to assembly.

From Glenn Greenwald

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.
8.31.2008 7:28pm
OrinKerr:
Karen,

No, there is no Fourth Amendment difference between obtaining a warrant for existing evidence of an inchoate crime and a completed crime. Again, if you're worried about the Constitution of the United States, this appears to have been constitutional.

As for removing a potential check, I don't get it: Cameras are everywhere, and surely a group won't be unable to film the events because cameras were seized. Again, this is assuming that the reports you heard are accurate; I don't know about that one way or the other.
8.31.2008 7:30pm
Scote (mail):

As for removing a potential check, I don't get it: Cameras are everywhere, and surely a group won't be unable to film the events because cameras were seized. Again, this is assuming that the reports you heard are accurate; I don't know about that one way or the other.


Right, because the intimidation factor will have no effect on them up and above the confiscation of all their phones, computers and cameras, nor the fact that the police may confiscate any replacements, if they can afford any, and keep all the footage. Yup, no chilling affect at all.

You really do see the world through prosecutor's goggles, don't you?
8.31.2008 7:39pm
OrinKerr:
Scote,

There isn't a specific conspiracy to riot statute, but rather there is a riot statute, 609.71, and the usual conspiracy liability. Here's the statute:
Subdivision 1. Riot first degree. When three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property and a death results, and one of the persons is armed with a dangerous weapon, that person is guilty of riot first degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 20 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $35,000, or both.


Subd. 2. Riot second degree. When three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property, each participant who is armed with a dangerous weapon or knows that any other participant is armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of riot second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.


Subd. 3. Riot third degree. When three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property, each participant therein is guilty of riot third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.
8.31.2008 7:41pm
NYU JD:
I don't have much of substance to add, but one would thing this kind of group would avoid the phrasing "violence inherent in the action". Makes them seem less fierce, more...Monty Python.
8.31.2008 7:44pm
CDU (mail) (www):
Right, because the intimidation factor will have no effect on them up and above the confiscation of all their phones, computers and cameras, nor the fact that the police may confiscate any replacements, if they can afford any, and keep all the footage. Yup, no chilling affect at all.


This is one of the biggest media events of the year. Every single protest in St. Paul over the next few days is going to be captured on camera, from several different angles, by professionals and amateurs, regardless of whether or not this group has their cameras or not. They are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of videographers and photographers who are going to be in the Twin Cities this week. So how, exactly, would shutting down one group make it any easier for the police to get away with anything?
8.31.2008 7:44pm
OrinKerr:
Scote,

Wow, I thought you were more serious than that. I am engaging you on the substance, doing legal research on your behalf, and you respond with lame claims that "You really do see the world through prosecutor's goggles, don't you?" Really, that's just totally pathetic. Perhaps you should find a blog that is more suited to you?
8.31.2008 7:44pm
Ugh (mail):
It's good to know that SCOTUS has officially approved police state tactics. I feel much better.
8.31.2008 7:46pm
Scote (mail):
OK, thank you for the response. However, the lawyer for the group says that he has never heard of anybody being charged with "conspiracy to commit riot."
8.31.2008 7:46pm
Hoosier:
"This is what happens when anarchists organize"

In addition to the definitional irony, of course.

Scote: "Yup, no chilling affect at all. "

And what would be "chilled"? The proclivity of a mob to prevent a political party in a democracy from holding a convention?
8.31.2008 7:47pm
OrinKerr:
Scote,

Yes, I saw that. But why is that relevant?
8.31.2008 7:49pm
Scote (mail):
OK, my post about "prosecutor's goggles" preceded your thoughtful production of the relevant statute, for which I thanked you before you added your missive directed at me and without any prodding on your part.

But, colloquialisms aside, I do think it is accurate to state that you view the law from the strong perspective of a former prosecutor. I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that your legal perspective is uncolored or the same as that of other legal authorities with different perspectives. This is not to say that your view of the law is unsubstantiated, but, the law being somewhat mailable, can be contrived to different perspectives and outcomes, none of which are necessarily unportable.
8.31.2008 7:51pm
Oren:
Orin, why does the website reflect at all on the people on the ground? I could make up a new website, "Orin Kerr's Anarchist Communist Molester Association" and post whatever I want under it. Absent any tangible connection between the OKACMA and you, I don't see at all how it's relevant.
8.31.2008 7:53pm
cirby (mail):
It's funny that "the violence inherent in this action" applies only to police raids. For some reason, there's none "inherent" in blocking streets and sabotaging vehicles to keep several thousand people from assembling peacefully.
8.31.2008 7:55pm
Scote (mail):

OrinKerr:
Scote,

Yes, I saw that. But why is that relevant?


The implication was that the statute is unconstitutionally vague, hence the reason it has never been invoked. I would gather by your response that you see it as a near boiler plate conspiracy charge of no unusual nature.
8.31.2008 7:59pm
Oren:
I should add to my 6:53 that, after reading the website, I could find no particular attribution of the words on there to any of the individuals charged. The way I see it, there is absolutely no reasonable nexus between the website and the defendants whatsoever.
8.31.2008 7:59pm
OrinKerr:
Scote:

Everyone knows I am a fascist knee-jerk police apologist. That is, except when am representing the ACLU in litigation, defending death row inmates, and arguing pro-civil-liberties positions that are too liberal to even get one vote on the current Supreme Court (see, e.g., Va v. Moore, U.S. v. Grubbs). In those cases, everyone knows I am a civil libertarian nutjob. As I have said before, I am always a hack -- I just alternate which I side I am a hack for in order to keep things interesting.

I'm curious, though: How do you stay unbiased? What's your secret?
8.31.2008 8:02pm
whit:
Also, note... the cops got a warrant. Iow, unless somebody is arguing they fabricated/exaggerated their PC (nowhere in evidence that I see), then whether or not a warrant should have been issued is solely a decision made by A JUDGE, not the cops. It is always preferable, when practicable to get a warrant (to search/arrest), and in many cases - it's the only way the search will be valid.

They DID that.

Scote, did the judge who SIGNED THE WARRANT view the world through "prosecutor's eyes"?

Are those like Betty Davis eyes? DO they come with electronic snare drums and a catchy hook?

I haven't read the Affidavit that justified the warrant, but just based on what these idiots were spouting on their website alone, there is pretty good evidence they were conspiring to commit crimes, not to mention - deprive others of their constitutional rights.
8.31.2008 8:04pm
Scote (mail):

I'm curious, though: How do you stay unbiased? What's your secret?

If you can find where I've ever made such a claim I'd be happy to answer.


Everyone knows I am a fascist knee-jerk police apologist. That is, except when am representing the ACLU in litigation, defending death row inmates, and arguing pro-civil-liberties positions that are too liberal to even get one vote on the current Supreme Court (see, e.g., Va v. Moore, U.S. v. Grubbs). In those cases, everyone knows I am a civil libertarian nutjob. As I have said before, I am always a hack -- I just alternate which I side I am a hack for in order to keep things interesting.


A fine retort :) If I could insert an obeisant smilie, I would.
8.31.2008 8:06pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
OrinKerr,

Unless I've misunderstood Karen, I think you've missed her point. There were no videos of inchoate crime. The police raided and confiscated the equipment of a group that planned to film police activity. There is no legal basis for that.
8.31.2008 8:07pm
whit:
Orin, as a fascist knee-jerk jackboot wearing govt. thug cop (but a libertarian one! :) ), I can state unequivocally that you are not a fascist knee-jerk police apologist.

As for the opportunist hack thang...

no comment :)
8.31.2008 8:07pm
Jeremy:

Every single protest in St. Paul over the next few days is going to be captured on camera, from several different angles, by professionals and amateurs, regardless of whether or not this group has their cameras or not. They are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of videographers and photographers who are going to be in the Twin Cities this week. So how, exactly, would shutting down one group make it any easier for the police to get away with anything?


CDU: So this is action OK as long as the police leave some number of cameras unconfiscated?
8.31.2008 8:08pm
Scote (mail):

Scote, did the judge who SIGNED THE WARRANT view the world through "prosecutor's eyes"?


Probably. The defendants don't get to oppose the warrant they don't know about, so I'd say, "yes."
8.31.2008 8:08pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
Glenn Greenwald's take on things has the story somewhat different.

Followup here.

Blog from "I-Witness Video" here.

Even if Orin's info is correct and the RNC Welcoming Committee was engaged in criminal conspiracy, that only justifies arresting the conspirators. What gives with arresting their lawyers, the journalists trying to cover the story, the I Witness people, et al?
8.31.2008 8:09pm
CDU (mail) (www):
Gabriel McCall wrote:

Even if Orin's info is correct and the RNC Welcoming Committee was engaged in criminal conspiracy, that only justifies arresting the conspirators. What gives with arresting their lawyers, the journalists trying to cover the story, the I Witness people, et al?


Orin already covered this:

Although there are blog reports of a lawyer for the group being "arrested," it seems that it was only a temporary detention because he happened to be present when a warrant was executed. This is generally permitted, see Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93 (2005) (person present at scene handcuffed while warrant executed).

8.31.2008 8:11pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Scote wrote:

OK, thank you for the response. However, the lawyer for the group says that he has never heard of anybody being charged with "conspiracy to commit riot."

To me that says much more about either the integrity or the legal expertise of the anarchists' lawyer than it does about the prosecution.
8.31.2008 8:12pm
Scote (mail):

To me that says much more about either the integrity or the legal expertise of the anarchists' lawyer than it does about the prosecution.


Only if he's way off base and it is common to prosecute "Conspiracy to Commit Riot." Otherwise, what do you mean?
8.31.2008 8:13pm
OrinKerr:
Bill Poser,

We'd have to see the warrant to know what the affidavit says, but I was assuming the warrant was for past evidence of crime that is already stored on them. Of course, this assumes that such raids existed -- right now we're working off rumor, as far as I know.

Gabriel,

What CDU said.
8.31.2008 8:15pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Karen wrote:
I've been hearing different accounts from different places. The Star Tribune's account focused mostly on the RNC Welcoming Committee and all the stuff they seized from them--rocks, slingshots, a few guns, and a big bucket of urine.

But what I've been hearing from other sources is that the Welcoming Committee wasn't the only group targeted. Most notably, a civil liberties group that videotapes cops at protests (and whose footage has been used to exonerate arrested protesters in the past) was also broken into. Also, apparently at least at some of the houses, the cops refused to present the warrant (assuming they had one).

Could you please provide any links to primary sources (i.e., news accounts, not blogs talking about what someone else says) so we know exactly what the specific claims are?
8.31.2008 8:17pm
CDU (mail) (www):
Scote wrote:

However, the lawyer for the group says that he has never heard of anybody being charged with "conspiracy to commit riot."

Odd that a lawyer for a bunch of anarchist protesters claims never to have heard of the Chicago 7.
8.31.2008 8:18pm
zippypinhead:
Scote:

Everyone knows I am a fascist knee-jerk police apologist. That is, except when am representing the ACLU in litigation, defending death row inmates, and arguing pro-civil-liberties positions that are too liberal to even get one vote on the current Supreme Court.... In those cases, everyone knows I am a civil libertarian nutjob.....

I'm curious, though: How do you stay unbiased? What's your secret?

Professor Kerr's 7:02 pm post wins the thread! Game over. Time for the medal presentation!

Yeah, all those ex-CCIPS guys like Professor Kerr are incredible jack-booted thugs. That thing about them being near-genius computer and technical wizards who happen to also have law degrees is just a smokescreen...

Incidentally, FWIW, based on what little I've read about this so far, it sounds like the question of probable cause for a criminal conspiracy isn't at all close. Without even having seen the additional undercover evidence in the affidavit, from the outside this one looks like a good warrant.

I daresay that if the famously-unbiased Scote was commenting about the Denver police raiding the a bunch of neo-Nazis intent on disrupting the DNC, he would be a lot more sanguine about the situation.
8.31.2008 8:32pm
PC:
Even if Orin's info is correct and the RNC Welcoming Committee was engaged in criminal conspiracy, that only justifies arresting the conspirators. What gives with arresting their lawyers, the journalists trying to cover the story, the I Witness people, et al?


The action against the RNC Welcoming Committee (or any other violent or disruptive "protest" group) seems to be justified, but going after groups like I-Witness news is simply harassment and intimidation. I-Witness video in a case of at the 2004 RNC, exposed the NYC police doctoring video tape.

The actions at the DNC were atrocious with the "free speech" zones that were caged enclosures on black top parking lots away from the proceedings. The use of force was overwhelming by the police, but hey, two cops per protester, you can never be too sure. I expect the RNC to be the same.
8.31.2008 8:32pm
Brett Bellmore:

This is what happens when anarchists organize


It's always been a bit annoying to anyone who takes anarchism seriously as a political philosophy, all these people who heard the phrase, "bomb throwing anarchist", and decide that because they want to throw bombs, they ought to call themselves anarchists.
8.31.2008 8:33pm
Scote (mail):

Odd that a lawyer for a bunch of anarchist protesters claims never to have heard of the Chicago 7


I was un-aware that they were arrested and charged under Minnesota law...
8.31.2008 8:33pm
Jeremy:
Mike G in Corvalis:


Could you please provide any links to primary sources (i.e., news accounts, not blogs talking about what someone else says) so we know exactly what the specific claims are?



Here is a link to the Glen Reynolds post about the incident
.

There are several links to primary sources within that post, including a first person account from inside the raided I-Witness house.
8.31.2008 8:35pm
PC:
We'd have to see the warrant to know what the affidavit says, but I was assuming the warrant was for past evidence of crime that is already stored on them. Of course, this assumes that such raids existed -- right now we're working off rumor, as far as I know.


Here is one of the warrants. The internets are amazing.
8.31.2008 8:37pm
Actual (mail):
Some more information, whether biased or not, can be found here:

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/originals

Includes a partial transcript of the search warrant.
8.31.2008 8:37pm
Scote (mail):

I daresay that if the famously-unbiased Scote was commenting about the Denver police raiding the a bunch of neo-Nazis intent on disrupting the DNC, he would be a lot more sanguine about the situation.


Always easier to attack the pretend argument of an imaginary person than the real thing, which is just what you are doing. My position on Nazis would hinge on similar factors, was there legitimate probable cause and violation of statute?

I'm not in favor of violent anarchists or Nazis. If you had read my posts rather than attacking imaginary posts you'd have noted that my posts center around the raid on the I-Witness journalists.
8.31.2008 8:38pm
Bruce:
however, the violence inherent in this action may only be a hint of the violence to be expected on Monday and beyond

Come see the violence inherent in the system! Come see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I'm bein' repressed!
8.31.2008 8:49pm
CDU (mail) (www):
If you had read my posts rather than attacking imaginary posts you'd have noted that my posts center around the raid on the I-Witness journalists.


Actually, you've mostly been talking about the anarchists. None of the I-Witness folks were charged with "conspiracy to riot".
8.31.2008 8:50pm
Scote (mail):
Actually, you've mostly been talking about the anarchists. None of the I-Witness folks were charged with "conspiracy to riot".

Indeed you are correct. I've been mixing my "villians" and hadn't realized it.
8.31.2008 8:52pm
AKD:
"Hollowed Out Puppets"

WTF?
8.31.2008 8:55pm
David Warner:
As with this, just seems like overkill on our (i.e. the police force we fund) behalf.
8.31.2008 8:56pm
cirby (mail):

PC:
The action against the RNC Welcoming Committee (or any other violent or disruptive "protest" group) seems to be justified, but going after groups like I-Witness news is simply harassment and intimidation.


Unless, of course, they had a large number of members in common (which happens a lot with this sort of thing), and some (or many) of the I-Witness folks were "anarchists" who were planning on using I-Witness as a cover for their actions.

Just because some people claim I-Witness was innocent, don't assume the people involved in it are. Sure, they videotape police officers (no problem with that), but that's a lovely way to cover people who want to cause more problems (judicious camera work and editing, or even active support).
8.31.2008 9:00pm
PC:
Unless, of course, they had a large number of members in common (which happens a lot with this sort of thing), and some (or many) of the I-Witness folks were "anarchists" who were planning on using I-Witness as a cover for their actions.


If I-Witness was an unknown group your argument would have more merit, but it's a group that tends to cover a number of protests from a "man on the street" perspective, from what I can tell. They appear to be a group that is heavy on the civil liberties/police abuse front. I don't know how close knit the group is, so your suspicions may be valid. However, they also are public about their activities and have legal backing, so they don't really fit the anarchist mold.

In the past they have caught some police abuse on tape that has been used to successfully render judgments against the state. That would make I-Witness a high value target to intimidate prior to a large event where protest will occur.
8.31.2008 9:23pm
B. R. George (mail):
To those who keep emphasizing that this organization is anarchist - do you see that fact as relevant to the question of whether the actions were justified?
8.31.2008 9:26pm
B. R. George (mail):
Sorry, to clarify, I mean do you think it was relevant to whether the actions of the police were justified?

I would presume that the police should be concerned with criminal conspiracies of this kind to an equal degree regardless of the positions of the conspirators on questions of the optimal political order.
8.31.2008 9:28pm
OrinKerr:
B.R. George,

Of course. They key was the illegal effort to stop a political convention from occurring, for whatever reason. (I mention the anarchist point only because it makes the agenda more understandable.)
8.31.2008 9:30pm
OrinKerr:
Br. George,

I mean, of course it was *not* relevant.
8.31.2008 9:31pm
PC:
So I'm curious if something like this is considered a conspiracy?

The founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said Wednesday that he and other activists plan to be arrested during the Democratic National Convention while protesting Barack Obama's support for abortion rights.

Randall Terry said the protest would be a sit-in but he declined to give details of exactly when and where the protest would occur following a closed-door meeting with police about his plans. He estimated that between 10 and 30 people would be arrested.


Hearing from a few people that lived in the area there was also a truck that had a giant fetus that was obstructing traffic in protest (pre-planned). Were any police infiltrating this group?
8.31.2008 9:39pm
CDU (mail) (www):
PC:

The action against the RNC Welcoming Committee (or any other violent or disruptive "protest" group) seems to be justified, but going after groups like I-Witness news is simply harassment and intimidation.

My totally speculative guess about what happened is that the "RNC Welcoming Committee" was in contact with I-Witness to try to get their actions videotaped. This fact came to the attention of the authorities (perhaps through their undercover infiltration of the group) and the police served the search warrants to ferret out exactly what the connection between the groups is. I think this is why no one at I-Witness was actually arrested (as opposed to detained while the warrant was executed). The police were looking for information about the "Welcoming Committee" rather than interested in I-Witness themselves.
8.31.2008 9:39pm
zippypinhead:
Just because some people claim I-Witness was innocent, don't assume the people involved in it are. Sure, they videotape police officers (no problem with that), but that's a lovely way to cover people who want to cause more problems (judicious camera work and editing, or even active support).
Although that conduct would not generally give rise to probable cause to believe either that a crime was committed, or that perishable evidence of a crime already existed on the premises to be searched. Something else must be going on here. I suspect we'll learn more over the next few days.
8.31.2008 9:43pm
cirby (mail):

PC:
If I-Witness was an unknown group your argument would have more merit, but it's a group that tends to cover a number of protests from a "man on the street" perspective, from what I can tell.


So your reason for thinking they have no members in common with the anarchists is... they've been around a while and you don't know about any ties between the groups?

Here's a thought: got to their website at

iwitnessvideo.info

...read some of their blog entries, and see if they're really a nonbiased witness at this sort of event.
8.31.2008 9:46pm
Scote (mail):

...read some of their blog entries, and see if they're really a nonbiased witness at this sort of event.


Why should being biased subject a reporter to police search and seizure?
8.31.2008 9:47pm
zippypinhead:
My totally speculative guess about what happened is that the "RNC Welcoming Committee" was in contact with I-Witness to try to get their actions videotaped.... The police were looking for information about the "Welcoming Committee" rather than interested in I-Witness themselves.
It's plausible that if I-Witness possessed evidence of the particular "RNC Welcoming Committee" riot/barricade action plans, that evidence might have been what was specified to be seized in that warrant.

The warrant that PC linked to at 7:37 isn't the I-Witness warrant, unless they were also storing the anarchist's molotov cocktails and other IEDs, along with various other of the weapons specified to be seized (which I suppose isn't entirely farfetched, but we're giving them the benefit of the doubt for the time being?).
8.31.2008 9:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I will reserve judgment on whether the police tactics were legal or proper. I think Prof. Kerr is being a bit too flippant because there actually has to be a pretty strong showing before you start executing search warrants and preemptive arrests (which are prior restraints) before an expected riot. There are serious First Amendment issues here.

On the other hand, this is also completely understandable after what happened to the WTO in Seattle several years back. There certainly is an element in the anarchist community who think that shutting down an event is the same thing as free speech, and it isn't.
8.31.2008 9:58pm
PC:
cirby:
...read some of their blog entries, and see if they're really a nonbiased witness at this sort of event.


I never claimed they were unbiased (in fact I said they assume there is police abuse/violation of civil liberties of at protests in my cited post), I simply claimed their association with anarchist groups are probably unlikely given the publicity they go after.

zippypinhead:
The warrant that PC linked to at 7:37 isn't the I-Witness warrant, unless they were also storing the anarchist's molotov cocktails and other IEDs, along with various other of the weapons specified to be seized (which I suppose isn't entirely farfetched, but we're giving them the benefit of the doubt for the time being?).


I didn't mean to attribute that warrant to I-Witness, Prof. Kerr was asking for a warrant related to the raids so I provided the only warrant I knew that was publicly available. Cross-referencing the information should be trivial for anyone that wants to ;)

Having witnessed protest raids before, the broadness of the warrants are always the thing that strike me. Outside of the assembled destructive devices there is a laundry list of physical items that any average home would contain. After reading the warrant and doing some cursory research, my computer now contains "documents that plan, promote and/or advocate criminal activity."

It's an ammonia + bleach = terrorist approach to law enforcement.
8.31.2008 10:07pm
PC:
Disclaimer: Don't mix ammonia and bleach.
8.31.2008 10:09pm
OrinKerr:
Dilan Esper:
I think Prof. Kerr is being a bit too flippant because there actually has to be a pretty strong showing before you start executing search warrants and preemptive arrests (which are prior restraints) before an expected riot.
Dilan, what cases would you cite for that?
8.31.2008 10:11pm
Avatar (mail):
I-Witness may just be guilty of violating Niven's Second Law ("don't stand next to someone throwing shit at an armed man"), whereas the other groups were guilty of violating Niven's First Law ("don't throw shit at an armed man").

It's entirely possible that ancillary groups got picked on because they were coordinating with the anarchists (man... ain't that a lovely turn of phrase?) "Hey, we're going to be touching off a riot here, here, and here, and can you make sure you have a camera crew at these points?"
8.31.2008 10:27pm
zippypinhead:
PC:
Disclaimer: Don't mix ammonia and bleach.
Unless you're trying to kill somebody, of course.

The search warrant PC linked to at 7:37 is interesting because it indicates there was probable cause to believe the premises contained not only evidence of the planned riots (plans, computer files, etc.), but actual contraband such as incendiaries, IEDs and other items that would pretty clearly be illegal "destructive devices" under Federal law (I'll stick with 18 U.S.C. §922 since I don't know Minnesota law, but one can probably make a wild leap of faith that toys like molotov cocktails are illegal under state law too). What I'd really like to see is the affidavit supporting the warrant that makes the averments as to why there is probable cause to believe these items were present at the location to be searched.

If that sort of stuff was actually found during the search, I strongly suspect we'll hear about it by the next news cycle - the odds of a police press conference first thing in the morning with a show and tell table would be pretty high. And I also suspect that the odds any of the arrested anarchists who can be linked to such contraband will be granted bail at a detention hearing would be vanishingly small.
8.31.2008 10:29pm
EH (mail):
What's the legality of a warrant executed on a different address than the one the warrant was issued for?

And why no mention of the FBI's presence at the raid(s)?
8.31.2008 10:39pm
Oren:

I haven't read the Affidavit that justified the warrant, but just based on what these idiots were spouting on their website alone, there is pretty good evidence they were conspiring to commit crimes, not to mention - deprive others of their constitutional rights.

Again, there is no evidence in what I've seen of the affidavit that the persons authoring the website where the same persons that were searched and arrested. Then again, perhaps the police do have evidence connecting the organization that runs the site to the people/places being search.

All I'm saying is that they have failed to produce a critical part of the puzzle, without which the warrant is facially invalid.
8.31.2008 10:41pm
Oren:

What's the legality of a warrant executed on a different address than the one the warrant was issued for?

Cribbed the answer from FourthAmendment.com (invaluable resource!, /plug)


Police officers do not necessarily violate the Fourth Amendment when they mistakenly execute a search warrant on the wrong address. Garrison recognized the need to allow some latitude for honest mistakes that are made by officers in the dangerous and difficult process of making arrests and executing search warrants. The first entry was not unreasonable because of a mistake, but continuing on after the mistake was learned obviates QI. Harman v. Pollock, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 10886 (10th Cir. May 2, 2006).
8.31.2008 10:43pm
whit:

All I'm saying is that they have failed to produce a critical part of the puzzle, without which the warrant is facially invalid


no, what you are saying is that they have failed to produce to YOU that "critical piece of the puzzle".


or you haven't discovered where same is.
8.31.2008 10:48pm
OrinKerr:
And why no mention of the FBI's presence at the raid(s)?

I assume both because it is (a) legally irrelevant and (b) what you would expect, given that the RNC is a federal concern not a state one. I personally would be kind of surprised if the FBI were not involved, and I would wonder why they weren't involved given the important federal interests here.
8.31.2008 10:51pm
Hoosier:
Where can I get a pair of jackboots, by the way? L L Bean doesn't seem to be carrying them this season.
8.31.2008 10:53pm
whit:
hoosier...


www.galls.com

lots of policestategear(tm)
8.31.2008 10:55pm
zippypinhead:
And why no mention of the FBI's presence at the raid(s)?
Actually, I assume the lead agency for convention security is probably Secret Service, especially with the (now cancelled?) Bush/Cheney presence.

But more generally on your question why the Feds might have been scarce here: The warrant was issued by a state court. Federal agencies don't go in on state warrants. They even try to avoid operating under state authority in joint Federal/local operations (although sometimes when one wants true bureaucratic nightmares, there might be both Federal and state warrants involved). There are a lot of practical reasons why, including that Feds don't want to trust their qualified immunity to local cops drafting papers for local magistrates. Having said that, it's not uncommon for the Feds to be called in after the fact for technical assistance (e.g., BATFE securing explosives found in a raids), but that's a different legal animal.

Here, this was pretty clearly a local operation. I can think of several reasons why Federal law enforcement might not be involved in this instance, but I'd be just speculating.
8.31.2008 10:56pm
Oren:
Whit, don't you think it's at all relevant whether there was an actual material connection between the people running the website and the people/places being searched? Like I said, the evidence on that count is somewhere between pretty thin and non-existent.
8.31.2008 11:00pm
whit:
Oren, I do.

You completely miss my point, which is that just because YOU don't know what the connection is... doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

hth
8.31.2008 11:04pm
Oren:

or you haven't discovered where same is.

Since I first posted the question earlier today, I've not had a single person give a single piece of evidence that the webpage has anything to do with the people searched/arrested. Given the large number of houses searched, it's becoming ridiculous to think that they all were involved in writing those things.
8.31.2008 11:06pm
EH (mail):
Thanks Orin, Oren and Zippy.
8.31.2008 11:06pm
Oren:
Well whit, like I said at 10:06, it's becoming ridiculous to pin the website on everyone that was searched or arrested. You are right though, we should reserve judgment until we get the full affidavits, including any statements by undercover officers.
8.31.2008 11:09pm
OrinKerr:
Since I first posted the question earlier today, I've not had a single person give a single piece of evidence that the webpage has anything to do with the people searched/arrested.

Did you notice that the website has a page devoted to the people searched/arrested? I think that probably counts as a single piece of evidence.
8.31.2008 11:10pm
Scote (mail):

The search warrant PC linked to at 7:37 is interesting because it indicates there was probable cause to believe the premises contained not only evidence of the planned riots (plans, computer files, etc.), but actual contraband such as incendiaries, IEDs and other items that would pretty clearly be illegal "destructive devices" under Federal law


The great thing about broad searches is that the police can selectively take evidence. Everybody has items that the police can produce as "criminal evidence." If they claim you are a rapist, they can seize all your kitchen cutlery, ductape and camera equimpent and call it a rape tool kit. If they are accusing you of being a terrorist, they can do the same and seize ordinary household chemicals, buckets, glassware and petrol and claim you had the ingredients for IEDs (and since IEDs are improvised, I'd guess that everybody has at least some of the needed supplies for IEDs.

So, when you let the cops go on an unrestricted fishing expedition they will always be able to find fish, no matter who you are and no matter whether you are actually guilty.
8.31.2008 11:26pm
CDU (mail) (www):
If they claim you are a rapist, they can seize all your kitchen cutlery, ductape and camera equimpent and call it a rape tool kit.


Sure, they can claim that, but to win a conviction they have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Duct tape, a camera, and cutlery isn't going to hack it in court.
8.31.2008 11:30pm
Hoosier:
"The police may claim that the raid was executed according to protocol - however, the violence inherent in this action . . . "

Come see the violence inherent in the system!

Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
8.31.2008 11:31pm
zippypinhead:
Scote:
"If they are accusing you of being a terrorist, they can do the same and seize ordinary household chemicals, buckets, glassware and petrol and claim you had the ingredients for IEDs..."
Sure, whatever you say [sigh, again]. Only the actual search warrant suggests they weren't necessarily going to arrest these guys just for having a quart of gasoline in their lawnmower. Specified items (for which there was presumably probable cause) to seize included:

-- "assembled improvised incendiary devices... to include fire bombs (Molotov cocktails)..."

-- "assembled improvised explosive devices..."

-- "smoke bombs"

-- "explosive filler materials to include pyrotechnic powder; propellants such as black powder, pyrodex and flash powder..."

If they had PC to believe these contraband items were on the premises, this wasn't a fishing expedition to harass law-abiding citizens.
8.31.2008 11:54pm
xyzzy:
Search warrant for Monica R. Bicking residence at 3240 17th Av S, Minneapolis: page 1, page 2, page 3.

Receipt, inventory and return for search warrant executed at Monica R. Bicking residence on 17th Av S on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 7:49 am: page 4, page 5, page 6.

Also, about the time the search warrant was executed, three individuals were arrested at the Monica R. Bicking residence on 17th Av S. Those individuals are Monica R. Bicking, age 26, Garrett S. Fitzgerald, 25, and Eryn C. Trimmer, 23.
8.31.2008 11:59pm
Scote (mail):
IIRC, the search warrant specifies what they are looking for but does not completely limit what they can seize.
9.1.2008 12:01am
name:
Orin,

Obviously, we have no way of evaluating whether the police had good cause for the warrant, and I'm willing to assume that they did. What troubles me is the amount of force allegedly used in executing the warrant. The case you cite holds that, in certain circumstances, it is reasonable to handcuff people present while a warrant is executed. Do you have any opinion on whether those circumstances were present here? If so, the police (allegedly) went farther than simply handcuffing, including forcing people to lie down facing the floor and stepping on them to keep them on the floor. Again, I have no idea if this actually happened, but if it did, do you find that problematic? It seems to go well beyond what happened in Muehler.

The reason I ask is that I have been troubled by what appears to be the growing militarization of the police. Here in the D.C. area, we had a recent incident of someone's dog being shot during the execution of a warrant when it seems that the police didn't have any reason to think that the people in the house were dangerous -- in fact, the allegations were that they had unwittingly been sent a package of marijuana. Likewise, in the past couple of years there was an incident of the police using a SWAT team to execute an arrest warrant and killing the (unarmed) person in the process.

Do you have any thoughts on that -- either in terms of policy or in terms of constitutional law? My own thoughts are inchoate, but like I said, on a gut level, I find it troubling.
9.1.2008 12:08am
Scote (mail):
zippypinhead wrote:

Sure, whatever you say [sigh, again]. Only the actual search warrant suggests they weren't necessarily going to arrest these guys just for having a quart of gasoline in their lawnmower. Specified items (for which there was presumably probable cause) to seize included:

-- "assembled improvised incendiary devices... to include fire bombs (Molotov cocktails)..."

-- "assembled improvised explosive devices..."

-- "smoke bombs"

-- "explosive filler materials to include pyrotechnic powder; propellants such as black powder, pyrodex and flash powder..."


Zippy, it seems like your very, very selective quotations from the search warrent are more than a little deceptive and are downright mendacious. The warrant fully supports my supposition, a fact which you attempted to cover by omitting the portions that prove that to be the case:


Ignitable liquids, to include but not limited to gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, mineral spirits and brake fluid.

...and unassembled components of these devices, to include but not limed to, metal, glass, plastic or cardboard containers.

Potential explosive materials and liquids such as chlorine derivatives, acids, fuels and oxidizers.

...and more.
9.1.2008 12:11am
whit:

IIRC, the search warrant specifies what they are looking for but does not completely limit what they can seize.



at least in my experience ... I have written dozens of search warrants and have read probably several hundred... I can't ever remember a search warrant that "completely limits" what can be seized. I am sure there are some cases where such a warrant is issued, but I've never seen one.

In other words... so what.

about as revealing as saying "the search warrant used words, most of which had vowels in them..."
9.1.2008 12:20am
Oren:

Did you notice that the website has a page devoted to the people searched/arrested? I think that probably counts as a single piece of evidence.

This was, of course, after the arrests, therefore proving nothing about the state of affairs before they were arrested. Moreover, the fact that party A runs a page on their website to protest the arrest of party B just doesn't cut it as evidence that party B conspired to do things listed on A's site.

This is my primary objection to tarring an entire group of people (30+ arrested, according to the various sources), with the writings of, at most, a few. Defendants have not committed any actual crime -- their guilt hangs on a tenuous conspiracy charge.

Like I said before, it's premature, but I'm skeptical that they can hang this conspiracy charge as widely as they say.
9.1.2008 12:21am
whit:

The case you cite holds that, in certain circumstances, it is reasonable to handcuff people present while a warrant is executed.


yes. i'd say it's more common than not, in search warrants that involve people (vs. like a warrant that involves a search of bag, obviously).

I've done several warrants where it was not done. Like one, where a kid had been selling a bunch of ecstacy from his parent's house. I'd personally bought from him several times. The research showed he lived with his parents only. There was no perceived threat whatsoever from them. They were told to sit down on the couch. That was the extent. No handcuffs, no lying on the floor.

Contrast with a warrant like this where you are raiding a location where there is probably all sorts of traffic in and out, numerous references to weapons, etc. I would be surprised if they DIDN'T prone people out and handcuff them at least until the scene was made secure.

This is best for everybody's safety, to include the people in the house.

I personally had 3 members of my unit shot at ONE warrant. They are dangerous. The fact that we use good tactics makes it much less likely that we get shot AND that we have to shoot them.

It may not be pretty, but it's the safest way to do it, and it's entirely constitutional.
9.1.2008 12:27am
xyzzy:
Those of you arguing about the search warrant for 2301 23rd Av S, Minneapolis, executed on Saturday, August 30, 2008 around 8:00am or 8:30am should be aware that the location has been reported as the Minneapolis Food Not Bombs house.

Nathaniel D. Secor, age 26, was arrested at that location, presumably around the time the search warrant was executed.

It is entirely unclear what relation, if any, exists between the so-called “RNC Welcoming Commitee” and the Minneapolis Food Not Bombs location.

 

(Also, a correction to my previous comment: Monica R. Bicking, arrested at her residence on 17th Av S, is aged 23.)
9.1.2008 12:35am
zippypinhead:
Scote, you're obviously inexperienced in search warrant practice, and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that given how clueless and biased your comments have been on this thread, perhaps these are the first warrants you've actually ever seen. I have assisted agents in drafting more warrants than I can count, have taught warrant drafting techniques, have had spirited debates with magistrates who were skeptical about PC averments, have won (for the side on top of the "v.") more than my share of suppression motions -- including (in my younger days when I worked violent crime cases for a while) warrants dealing specifically with destructive device searches.

You simply don't put attention-grabbing items like: "assembled improvised incendiary devices... to include fire bombs (Molotov cocktails)..." or "assembled improvised explosive devices..." into your warrant application without having probable cause, or the magistrate is going to make the application explode in your face. And your agent is going to have one heck of a time getting a warrant approved from that magistrate ever again after his credibility has been blown. And of course you always add components to the list of items to be seized when you draft the warrant application. SOP, and totally permissible under the Fourth Amendment. And I'm sure I don't have to explain why, even to a neophyte.

You're right that somebody's being "downright mendacious" here, but it isn't me. I'm sure you'll again respond that I, like Professor Kerr, allegedly "really do see the world through prosecutor's goggles, don't you?" But I think Professor Kerr's response the last time you used that line pretty much sums it up.
9.1.2008 12:54am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
[me]:

I think Prof. Kerr is being a bit too flippant because there actually has to be a pretty strong showing before you start executing search warrants and preemptive arrests (which are prior restraints) before an expected riot.

[OK]: Dilan, what cases would you cite for that?


Professor Kerr, if the planned allegedly riotous activity that is being targeted is expressive conduct, then preemptive law enforcement activity to stop it is a prior restraint. There's 75 years of caselaw that holds that prior restraints of expressive activity are only allowed under the most narrow of circumstances.

The point is, the police would have to establish that the activities that they are targeting are either nonexpressive (in which case there is no prior restraint problem) or that stopping the speech in advance meets strict scrutiny.
9.1.2008 12:59am
Scote (mail):

Scote, you're obviously inexperienced in search warrant practice, and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that given how clueless and biased your comments have been on this thread, perhaps these are the first warrants you've actually ever seen. I have assisted agents in drafting more warrants than I can count, have taught warrant drafting techniques, have had spirited debates with magistrates who were skeptical about PC averments, have won (for the side on top of the "v.") more than my share of suppression motions -- including (in my younger days when I worked violent crime cases for a while) warrants dealing specifically with destructive device searches.


I have no reason to doubt that you are experienced in drafting warrants. However, you are dodging the issue, aren't you? I said that innocent items can be seized and create a false picture. You falsely said that isn't so, the warrant specifically only mentions "assembled devices" and such and the police can't seize ordinary items. The facts of the warrant prove that is not the case, as the language of the warrant proves.
9.1.2008 1:06am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr:

Kimba Wood had a nice opinion a few years ago analyzing why arrests to prevent protest (under clearly constitutional, generally applicable laws) constituted a prior restraint and could be enjoined. Metropolitan Council v. Safir, 99 F. Supp. 2d 438. She also cited some other cases in there that held the same thing in different jurisdictions.

As I said, I am not claiming that these arrests were unconstitutional; just that you are being VERY flippant in assuming that just because someone gets a valid warrant that they can shut down a political protest. THE CENTRAL AIM of the First Amendment was to preclude law enforcement from stopping protests before they occur, and arrest warrants don't change that.
9.1.2008 1:10am
zippypinhead:
You falsely said . . . the warrant specifically only mentions "assembled devices" and such and the police can't seize ordinary items.
Nope, never said the warrant ONLY mentioned "assembled devices." Never said the police can't seize "ordinary items" -- in fact OF COURSE they can, should and must seize components, too. And here the list of items to be seized is the better part of two pages, and I highlighted just a couple.

You're not a lawyer, are you? If so, you must have missed the class in 1L where they discussed the proper use of the ellipsis in quotes. That's the second major careless misreading, or perhaps outright misrepresentation, you're called on just in this thread tonight.
9.1.2008 1:18am
OrinKerr:
As I said, I am not claiming that these arrests were unconstitutional; just that you are being VERY flippant in assuming that just because someone gets a valid warrant that they can shut down a political protest.

Dilan, I don't think I ever assumed that or said it, much less that I was "VERY flippant" in doing so. Obviously the government cannot shut down a legal political protest. If you read the post again, I think it's pretty clear that the point of the post is to say that based on the representations in the group's website, and what we know of the facts, there is not yet a reason to think there was anything illegal or even just bad here.
9.1.2008 1:26am
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
1. All I see so far are warrants and inventories -- not affidavits in support of warrants, which would articulate the probable cause. Unless I am missing something.

2. I must respectfully dissent from zippypinhead's view regarding warrant practice. In my practice as a prosecutor and then a defense attorney, I've seen some extremely pathetic excuses for probable cause. State warrants (as opposed to federal), in particular, often make a mockery of the warrant requirement.
9.1.2008 1:32am
TruePath (mail) (www):
Orin,

As a matter of standard constitutional interpratation (absent new evidence) I'm inclined to trust your expertise and persuasive arguments. My sense is that this is another instance of the fallacy that anything (they think is) really bad must be unconstitutional.

However, regardless of what an application of established precedents would say about this situation it does present worriesome elements for the principles our constitution is meant to protect. In particular the problem I have with this situation is the nearly unfettered discretion that our legal system gives police and prosecutors over law enforcement.

In particular the ability to use rarely enforced laws combined with the broadening effect of conspiracy crimes gives the police substantial ability to chill speech they find disagreeable. Now I don't believe the police are sitting around thinking, "how can we use the law to stop these people from expressing their views," but LEOs (like other professions) come from a certain social/cultural viewpoint which makes them more likely to see some activity by a hippie group as being a criminal conspiracy than similar behavior by a group that they more easily identify with. In particular I worry that the judgement about when something is a step to advance the conspiracy is far from viewpoint neutral.

I would like to seem some means of revoking much of the discretion that police officer and prosecutors have not to charge individuals. Perhaps putting it in the hands of an independent adjudicator? I don't know but I think the worry is real even if I don't know enough about this situation to say whether this was a good instance of it.
9.1.2008 1:45am
zippypinhead:
State warrants (as opposed to federal), in particular, often make a mockery of the warrant requirement.
Yeah, that may be a problem in some state systems. In the Federal Districts I'm familiar with, the Magistrate Judges can be extraordinarily persnickety about probable cause. I have had some agents who've had to leave chambers with their heads hanging, re-write their affidavits (sometimes after doing further investigation), and then try, try again. One magistrate even candidly suggested to me at a conference (during the part where they serve alcohol) that a fear of being gigged by the District Judges upstairs tended to be a wonderful constraint on unfettered lazyness in warrant application review. While the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule might save a crummy warrant in a suppression motion, one can only imagine what the discussion in the Judicial lunchroom that day might be like.

As I said above, I don't know Minnesota practice. Although the general reputation of that state's bench is pretty good.
9.1.2008 1:54am
TruePath (mail) (www):
In this particular case I worry about the content neutrality of the deciscion about what constitutes disturbing the public peace.

In particular I don't see anything that necessarily constitutes a violation of the riot act you quoted in the strategy from their webpage. Creating inconvenience, even coordinated inconvenience, is not necessarily a disturbance of the peace.

Certainly trying to obstruct the convention by simply overloading city transportation infrastructure (e.g., taking lots of people into downtown St. Paul and riding the buses/walking around leisurely) is not itself a crime. Locking oneself to things may be a crime but I'm unsure if it is a disturbance of the peace or otherwise serious enough to justify conspiracy charges (misdemeanors don't admit conspiracy charges do they...or can I conspire to break the speed limit?).

-----------

In particular my worry about free speech is this. Suppose a group had announced they wanted to stop the Phelpsians from bothering military funerals. They posted a webpage announcing their tactics of both soft denial (congesting the usual protest locations for the phelpsians and creating a traffic jam on the road a phelpsian bus would take to arrive) and hard denial (locking themself to the phelpsian bus). Would a group that planned to do this to the Phelpsians get raided by the police?

My sense is the answer here is no, simply because the police found their message more agreeable. However, I don't know how one can correct this (theoretical) violation of free speech in a practical fashion through the judicial system. Some rights violations simply might not have a plausible remedy.
9.1.2008 1:57am
whit:

Now I don't believe the police are sitting around thinking, "how can we use the law to stop these people from expressing their views," but LEOs (like other professions) come from a certain social/cultural viewpoint which makes them more likely to see some activity by a hippie group as being a criminal conspiracy than similar behavior by a group that they more easily identify with.


this is, with all due respect... complete rubbish.

there are leftie cops and rightwing cops. hippie cops, etc.

the idea tghat cops are even close to politically or culturaly monolithic is absurd.

sure, most probably think anarchists are dangerous nutjobs.

most civilians think so too.

this case has nothing to do with expressing views. it has to do with committing crimes.
9.1.2008 2:02am
zippypinhead:
Would a group that planned to [blockade] the Phelpsians get raided by the police?

My sense is the answer here is no, simply because the police found their message more agreeable. However, I don't know how one can correct this (theoretical) violation of free speech in a practical fashion through the judicial system. Some rights violations simply might not have a plausible remedy.
As a general proposition under the caselaw relating to selective prosecution, you have no right to insist the police arrest the other guy they have been leaving alone. Whether in your hypothetical the Phelpsians might have a cause of action because the police aided and abetted a violation of their civil rights is an interesting question (I wouldn't be surprised if the issue came up after freedom riders were assaulted by Klansmen while the local southern cops stood by, for example).

But if the police do overreact to a particular situation, there are remedies. In addition to dismissal of criminal actions, follow-on civil suits may be successful. And in extreme cases, the police may lose their qualified immunity. I recall a couple of years ago the D.C. police were rather embarrassed after they over-did mass arrests of World Bank/IMF protesters, and ended up costing the District a fair amount in civil settlement money.

I would hazard a guess that everyone in the law enforcement and judicial community who touched the Minnesota warrants knew they would be flyspecked, and that if there was any chance whatsoever of an issue, the ACLU or others would be filing suits until the cows came home. So it's likely they were extremely careful to not cut corners on things like probable cause or search-site procedures in this instance.
9.1.2008 2:26am
xyzzy:
So it's likely they were extremely careful to not cut corners on things like probable cause or search-site procedures in this instance.


Actually, the search warrant executed at the duplex at 949 and 951 Iglehart Av, St Paul, according to credible reports, only specified a search of 951 Iglehart.

That duplex was providing guest quarters for persons associated with iWitness Video, Democracy Now and Legal Watch.

No persons were arrested and —again according to credible reports— no items at all were seized at that location.

 

(This news is compiled from multiple sources.)
9.1.2008 2:37am
OrinKerr:
Dilan Esper,

I read the Kimba Wood opinion, and it seems the exact opposite of what is happening here. I'm curious as to why you think it supports your argument that there are First Amendment problems with what happened.

TruePath,

To be honest, I would say we live in a pretty screwed up world if a group announced that it was blockading a city to block a political party convention and the police just set back and let it happen. It would be front page news of government incompetence, and I assume it would be seen as the decisions of those running a generally pretty liberal city to hurt a conservative political party. The fact that the investigation here might remind of in some ways of some things that would be bad if the facts were different is true, but I think we have to take the facts as we find them.

Name,

Sure, I have lots of problems with existing law. Where can I start? Well, let me pick just one: Heck v. Humphrey makes it basically impossible for a criminal defendant to bring a civil Fourth Amendment case. I think that stinks. But again, I think the issue is whether anything bad happened here, and I can't find anything at least so far.
9.1.2008 2:45am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
from the anarchists' FAQ...


22. How did you get the GOP Express plans?

The document in question, a scanned PDF of a print-out of a PowerPoint presentation called “GOP Express,” is one of many documents produced by the City of St. Paul in a lawsuit brought against them by groups planning an anti-war march for the first day of the Republican National Convention. The Welcoming Committee, an anarchist organizing body preparing for RNC protests, has positioned itself as a clearinghouse for convention-related information, and provides any and all relevant material through its website.


not asserting this has any relevance to the arrests or the whole situation, just have a question....
in general, is a party allowed to use documents turned over during discovery for other purposes outside the litigation? common sense says that seems like a no-no, but i am not lawyerific. or maybe i am missing something obvious
9.1.2008 2:49am
Kirk:
Zippy,

With all due respect to your pinhead status, black powder, pyrodex and flash powder are not contraband items per se (though they probably are for minors, and in some jurisdictions for sorta-minors, too.)
9.1.2008 4:02am
Ursus Maritimus:
the violence inherent in this action

Was I the only one who thought "Holy Grail" when they read this?
9.1.2008 4:12am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Was I the only one who thought "Holy Grail" when they read this
Yes, you're the only one who thought that. You are, however, the fourth or fifth guy to post it.
9.1.2008 6:04am
TruePath (mail) (www):
whit:


this is, with all due respect... complete rubbish.

there are leftie cops and rightwing cops. hippie cops, etc.

the idea tghat cops are even close to politically or culturaly monolithic is absurd.

sure, most probably think anarchists are dangerous nutjobs.

most civilians think so too.

this case has nothing to do with expressing views. it has to do with committing crimes.


I debated writing this point as said because I realize the police aren't a monolithic force. Certainly there are some cops with a great variety of political/cultural views. The cops in Berkeley certainly aren't the same as the cops in Chicago. However, within a given region as a statistical rule cops share certain attitudes.

It's exactly the same phenomena seen in college professors. Sure there are conservative college professors but because of what sort of people tend to go into academia, peer pressure and the like they are substantially underrepresented and certain views (strong support of academic freedom) are almost universal. This effect is no less strong in LEOs than it is in professors.

--------

Orin,

I don't doubt that it would be negligent if the police made no attempt to keep the city functional in the face of this kind of protest. Indeed, I do think the people who engage in these sorts of tactics ought to be arrested. The issues I have are threefold.

1) The potential for preemptive arrests to chill free speech by creating the impression that police power is being used to deter those who would make life uncomfortable for the convention goers.

2) The danger of mission creep. Once the police start conceptualizing many of these protest groups as participants in a criminal conspiracy there is the danger they will be too eager to broaden their net to organizers of allied groups who merely intend to make life difficult for RNC goers while staying within the limits of the law.

3) The implicit 1st ammendment violations that result from the fact that these activities wouldn't be prosecuted if the goal was to disrupt sufficently unpopular speech.

----

I admit the solution to 3 is to somehow demand these same rules be enforced even for groups targeting unpopular activities so it's a bit theoretical in this case and #1 is more an issue of proper spin control than the actual police action. It is really #2 I'm concerned about.

If I'm convinced the police were very conservative in who they arrested I will admit my worries were unfounded. I don't want to accuse anyone of any bad acts now, but it just seems to me like the sort of situation with dangerous incentives.
9.1.2008 8:42am
Fedya (www):
True Path:

The problem with your example of anti-Phelps protestors is that the Phelps types are deliberately looking to harass people. Perhaps you should ask instead whether the police should arrest a hypothetical group that intended to block the streets surrounding the RWC and I-Witness houses, and use Molotov cocktails to stop the members from assembling elsewhere.

Don't forget that even if they're not saying it in so many words, the RWC's pretty obvious intention (see "Tier Two") is to deny the delegates' First Amendment right of free assembly.
9.1.2008 10:22am
taney71:
These people had weapons (taken when the police raided the place. There were knives, bows/arrows, slingshots and rocks, and fammable liquids (urine in buckets as well). There was a police informant who revealed this and probably told the police the intent of the weapons.

I think that is enough for a raid.
9.1.2008 10:28am
Jonathan L. Katz (mail) (www):
Aside from trying to sort out what did and did not happen in this situation, let us keep in mind the bigger picture that recent Democratic and Republican national conventions repeatedly have brought severe First Amendment violations, as discussed further here http://tinyurl.com/5p5e3a and here http://tinyurl.com/6fqv4c .

Here is an audio/video recording of the raid taken by an occupant of the home: http://www.twincities.com/ci_10351505 . If this video already was posted, I apologize for missing it among the dozens of comments to this blogpost.

Here is the National Lawyers Guild's news release on the situation: http://www.protestrnc2008.org/node/342

Thanks for listening. Jon Katz


JON KATZ, P.C.
Criminal Defense Lawyer for MD, DC &VA
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 495-7755
http://katzjustice.com
9.1.2008 10:58am
lyarbrou (mail):
We have an increasing militarization of police in this country that I find very troubling in its implications for a free society and the right to dissent. This has been exacerbated by the increasing use of “no knock” or "knock and enter" raids more appropriate to a war zone following the Supreme Court’s greenlight for such raids. Rodney Balko of the Cato Institute has documented the costs of botched police raids and “quick trigger” reactions by Law Enforcement in an article entitled “Overkill: the rise of paramilitary police raids in America.”. Check out the interactive map of such events at:

http://www.cato.org/raidmap/


Such raids occur all too often. We had a case not long ago in the Kansas City area in which the police targeted the wrong house for a search, conducted a knock and enter raid, and shot dead the home owner when he reached for a gun to defend his family against intruders. Such has happened dozens of times. In this case it appears to have been a combination of sloppy police work and insufficient oversight by the judge issuing the warrant. Subsequently, the family brought suit and was awarded a significant sum of money, however, this in no way repaired the damage done to them.

I examined one of the warrants for the Minnesota raids. Many of the items listed are commonly found in any home. For example, in my home I keep a container for recycling wine bottles and other containers as well as gasoline for a lawn mower and other implements. Thus, I have the potential to make Molotov cocktails. I am also a hunter and shooter and I reload handgun ammunition. Consequently I have gunpowder, cartridge casings, primers and other items for making ammunition, all legal. I usually have on hand at least thousand rounds of handgun, rifle and shotgun ammo since I will often shoot a hundred rounds or more in an outing. I also keep a handgun by my bedside and would respond to someone breaking down my door at 2 a.m-and I would very likely be shot dead, as was the homeowner in Kansas City. I have a flawless legal record and CCW permits from my home and two other states so I do not expect to be raided by police. My hearing is impaired and I could very well not hear any announcement that those storming my home are police officers. The Supreme Court has recently held that there is a constitutional right to guns for self- defense. Yet, there is now a real risk to any individual choosing to exercise that right.

Examine the interactive map provided by Balko to see how frequently such mistaken raids occur with resulting death and/or emotional damage. According to Balko, Justice Kennedy noted the following in the "knock and enter" decision
"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern."

—Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006.

I share the belief that there is reason for grave concern regarding many police actions in conducting search and seizure operations involving people with no known history of violence, and that such operations should be sharply curtailed in such circumstances.
9.1.2008 11:50am
whit:

It's exactly the same phenomena seen in college professors. Sure there are conservative college professors but because of what sort of people tend to go into academia, peer pressure and the like they are substantially underrepresented and certain views (strong support of academic freedom) are almost universal. This effect is no less strong in LEOs than it is in professors.



i have seen actual stats (iow real data) on college professors political leanings, etc. iow, there is actual evidence (beyond our personal experience) that this is true. have you seen similar data for cops?

I haven't

college professors ARE more culturally monolithich than cops. for one thing, they all (or practically all) have Phd level education. cops have everything from high school degrees (in those agencies that still hire HS only graduates) , 2 yr college degrees, 4 yr college degrees, law degrees (god forbid), masters degrees, and even the rare Phd.

I personally have a BA and some grad school. I work with guys who have law degrees (several), several masters degrees, tons of high school only, 1 guy with a Phd (that i know of), one guy (my former FTO) with TWO masters, etc.

So, on this metric, cops are FAR less culturally monolithic than college professors.

Let's talk about military. a pretty fair %age of cops have military background. It's certainly far more prevalent than among college prof's. Again, more diversity. College profs come practically exclusively with no military background.

Cops also come from a very diverse background of careers, unlike college profs who are MUCH more likely to be solely academics who then became profs. I've trained and/or worked with former: teachers (grade school), car salesmen, lawyers, career military (intelligence officer, navy seal, etc.), computer programmers, professional athletes (surprising %age of these), nurses (fair # of these), etc.

So, i've given you three quick and dirty reasons to show you that you are still woefully mistaken. College professors are NOT a good analogy for the reasons given.

You could take a sample of 50 cops and 50 professors and you are going to see FAR more diversity in the three areas listed in the former than the latter.

hth
9.1.2008 2:48pm
Scote (mail):

taney71:
These people had weapons (taken when the police raided the place. There were knives, bows/arrows,


Please, do you really think the protesters were planning on starting a knife fight with riot police? Or using a bow and arrow? As to knives, everybody has knives in their house. Heck, I've got a fencing foil. Does that make me a terrorist? I should think not.
9.1.2008 3:20pm
Kirk:
whit,

Stop trying to confuse us with facts! :-)
9.1.2008 3:21pm
streamfortyseven (mail):
zippy states:
zippypinhead wrote:


Sure, whatever you say [sigh, again]. Only the actual search warrant suggests they weren't necessarily going to arrest these guys just for having a quart of gasoline in their lawnmower. Specified items (for which there was presumably probable cause) to seize included:

-- "assembled improvised incendiary devices... to include fire bombs (Molotov cocktails)..."

-- "assembled improvised explosive devices..."

-- "smoke bombs"

-- "explosive filler materials to include pyrotechnic powder; propellants such as black powder, pyrodex and flash powder..."

and taney71:

"These people had weapons (taken when the police raided the place. There were knives, bows/arrows,"
=====================================
None of these items are illegal to possess. Smoke bombs are sold at fireworks stands. It is legal to make your own fireworks, which could be considered as "improvised explosive devices" since they aren't store-bought. It is legal to own and use black powder, Pyrodex, and flash powder - many people hunt with black powder rifles and reload their own ammunition. Knives and bows and arrows are similarly legal to possess. What would zippy and taney71's reaction be if guns were taken as a result of the search? Does one's status as a "self-proclaimed anarchist" automatically nullify one's Second Amendment rights to *keep* and bear arms? How about possession of powder and bullets? Remember the bullet ban proposed back in the 1990s? What if semi-automatic "assault weapons" were found? Do anarchists have Constitutional rights, or are these rights somehow limited by "national security" concerns?
9.1.2008 4:27pm
Oren:


You could take a sample of 50 cops and 50 professors and you are going to see FAR more diversity in the three areas listed in the former than the latter.

That depends pretty highly on the department you sample. Over here in the Physics building, there are a fairly wide range of views that you likely won't see over in "Gender Studies".

There's probably variance (in the variance of views, that is) among different police departments as well, although thankfully enough I don't have to spend the time there to figure it out.
9.1.2008 5:19pm
whit:
oren, i was referring to the "cultural background" thang that the OP brought up. His claim was that cops were culturally monolithic, THEN when I said he was full of it, he brought up college prof's as an analogy. My point isn't that college profs are culturally monolithic. My point was that they are LESS diverse in this respect than cops - in education level (cops are more diverse), in career backgrounds, and in civilian/military experience (cops being far more likely to have military background - a very unique culture- than college profs).

So, again, I stand by my point. More importantly, I think I offered solid evidence that the OP's point is unsupported at best, but actually is just complete crap.

The claim was that since cops are culturally monolithic it naturally leads to abuses against fringe groups like "hippies" and "anarchists"

This was a stupid and unsupported point imo.
9.1.2008 5:26pm
Toby:
I thought it interesting in this discussion about whehter anything less than an assembled bomb was a weapon to find this item over on InstaPundit

His bus was attacked by protesters who dropped sandbags from an overpass, but he was unscathed.
9.1.2008 5:53pm
whit:
what is or isn't evidence of illegal activity is dependant (in part) on what the suspect's admitted intent was. Iow, if there is evidence that the suspect was planning on using dry ice bombs against a person, then dry ice (which is perfectly legal) would be evidence, as would internet searches for how to make dry ice bombs, etc. neither of which are criminal in and of themselves.

You can think of a million other examples. Similarly, just because these guys are protestors (obviously) against the RNC doesn't mean they are being prosecuted because they are protestors. Duh. Or their speech.

All sorts of evidence that is both legal and innocuous in many circumstances can be strong evidence of criminal behavior given the proper circumstances.

To give an example I once dealt with (guy practically drenched in blood)... there are plenty of reasons why you would be drenched in blood - you just dressed/slaughtered a deer in your back yard (and you aren't very good at it). And there are plenty of innocent reasons why a perfectly innocent person might have a big bloodstain on their carpet. But... in the investigation of a murder scene, it may not be so innocent. etc. etc.
9.1.2008 6:00pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
I would like to point out a gruesome example of media bias related to this story: when the San Francisco Chronicle reported this story (page A-17, and on the web here), it only mentioned the seizure of laptops and pamphlets.

The reporter did not mention the weapons, tools, and buckets of urine that were seized.

How do you write a news story without mentioning the most sensational detail--buckets of urine?

The only reason to do that is to lie by omission--to deliberately deceive the Chronicle's readers into thinking the raid was about civil liberties and peaceful protest, when in fact it was about violent thugs who planned to commit violent, undemocratic acts.

If you subscribe to the S.F. Chronicle, I urge you to cancel your subscription.
9.1.2008 6:32pm
Fub:
xyzzy wrote at 8.31.2008 10:59pm:
Receipt, inventory and return for search warrant executed at Monica R. Bicking residence on 17th Av S on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 7:49 am: page 4, page 5, page 6.
I read these return inventories at the links provided. I'm posting here the inventory of seized items that I read with only three comments:

First, I hope that others can provide better deciphering of the handwriting, but these are what I could decipher.

Second, I hope that these lists contribute to rational legal discussion here.

Third: Sorry for the long post, but I didn't know how to make the list shorter.

Question marks (?) mark either indecipherable letters or words, or guesses as to what the writing actually said.

Page 4:

RMC1 Rife barrrell found stairwell hatch by TM.

RMC2 ?? Two foam padding rolls found dining room by TM

RMC3 Two Jars of 9/16.metal staples found SE bsmt by TM

RMC4 [lined through and marked "left at residence] Four bag's of cloathing w/propaganda ????? found Bsmt ??

RMC5 Five boxes of lieture propaganda found in bsmt by TM

RMC6 "Filter" mask - found NW bdrm 2nd floor by ?? TM

RMC7 climbing equipment found NW bdrm 2nd Floor by TM

RMC8 Two boxes of ???? ??? and "pRo?????" found in vehicle MN plates NLX-611 by TM

RMC9 US currency $670.00 double counted by K?/Jm 835, leaase agreement for "287 East 6th St. St. Paul MN, reeceipt for $1000.00 2? months rent and complete harddrive Serial #WX8806?20296 found NE 2nd Floor Bdrm in LockBox by TM

"RMC 10 Helmet (U- Bike Lock + Filter Mask, (w digital? Pomergs????) throwing knives, cell phone and and goggles found NE by Jrm???

RMC 11 Literture "Peoples???" / book box containing Log of? meetings ??? found ????

RMC 12 Ha?????, ??? ??? "Tools", Me?????? found NE 2nd fl bdrm by TM.

----- END of Page 4

Page 5:


RMC 13 "filter mask" found in bsmtt by TM

RMC 14 Box ?? ?NC propaganda, spray paint X? cell phones found SW bdrm by TM.

RMC 15 Laptop "Apple comp" in box ???? found SW bdrm by TM

RMC 16 St. Paul City maps / propaganda?, b??? found living rm by TM

RMC 16A "St. Paul Legal ledger quote for ??? services" found w RMC 16

RMC 17 Dell comp??[amp??] serial # 7sefg51??

RMC 17A silver mass storage device "hard drive" found in ???? by TM

RMC 18 two boxes of liteture propaganda, two ??? ???? ??? cell,/phone mass storage device and checkbook ame of "Edyn?? Tra????" found ???? TM

RMC 19 several 5 gal baskets - two Kryptonite bike locks, 1 hacksaw, 2 long curtin rods, multiple bicycle ???? found in d??? by TM


RMC 20 13 cans of paint found in garage by TM.

RMC 21 37 CAL TRUPS??? found in garage by TM.

RMC 22 6 Vehicle tires found in garage by TM

----- END of Page 5

Page 6:


RMC 23 Large red bolt cutter found in garage by TM.

RMC 24 Hardware bolts, Nails screws R? T? found in garage by TM

RMC 25 Silver cable found in garage by TM.

RMC 26 Pry-Bar "Stanley" "wrecking bar" found in garage by TM

RMC 27 Propaganda banner found in garage by TM.

RMC 28 Can of charcoal lighter found in garage by TM

RMC 29 Denatured Alcohol can found in garage by TM

RMC 30 1 can of mineral spirits found in garage by TM

RMC 31 "CEC7???" Community Emergence Response team bay cars??? Volt/???? batteries?> Pry bar, ???? tape faund in garage by TM

----- END of Page 6

I don't doubt I made errors in this quick transcription, so others can correct it as needed.
9.1.2008 6:37pm
whit:
Daryl, but everybody knows that buckets of urine are only used for constitutionally protected acts of free expression - like submerging crucifixes

I am sure they were just planning an exhibition at the metropolitan art museum.
9.1.2008 6:38pm
Kirk:
Toby,

Thanks for the link to Instapundit's citation of the bus attack. Glenn's wording is worth a minor quibble or two, though, as "attacked by dropping sandbags from an overpass" doesn't really collocate very well with "protester". Surely the assailants in this case should be called, well, "assailants", if not "criminals" or perhaps even "domestic terrorists".
9.1.2008 6:56pm
streamfortyseven (mail):
I think it's clear evidence that the Sheriff's officers uncovered evidence of a criminal conspiracy when they found six tires, 13 cans of paint, a can of mineral spirits, a can of denatured alcohol, various hardware, nails, bolts, screws, a crowbar, a large bolt cutter, cars, batteries, tape, and a silver cable in the garage - not.

Also, it's an indication that LEOs still can't spell: "lieture" for "literature"? Reminds me of H L Mencken's remark that no Baltimore cop would spell the word "fracture" as anything other than "fraxr"...
9.1.2008 9:18pm
cvt:
I'm late to this discussion, but is anyone disturbed that Amy Goodman at Democracy Now was arrested? Maybe not, but I thought I would ask anyway.
9.1.2008 9:27pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan, I don't think I ever assumed that or said it, much less that I was "VERY flippant" in doing so. Obviously the government cannot shut down a legal political protest.

That's not the source of your flippancy. Rather, you seem to be assuming that as long as a political protest is potentially illegal, it may be shut down in advance under normal warrant rules.

No way. That type of arrest can be a prior restraint that is illegal. Under many circumstances, the First Amendment precludes the police from acting in advance under the prior restraint doctrine and having a facially valid arrest warrant is not the same thing as meeting the compelling state interest / least restrictive means test.
9.1.2008 9:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I read the Kimba Wood opinion, and it seems the exact opposite of what is happening here. I'm curious as to why you think it supports your argument that there are First Amendment problems with what happened.

I didn't say there are First Amendment problems. There may not be. What I am saying is that the test that you lay out, i.e., that the police has evidence of potential illegal conduct in a protest, is NOT the test for whether the police can arrest people for planned expressive activities. Rather, the prior restraint test of New York Times v. United States is applicable.

I leave open that the police may be able to meet the test or that the activity at issue here might be held non-expressive. Where you go wrong is in assuming that probable cause to arrest is enough when you are talking about arresting people for planning a protest, even an illegal one.
9.1.2008 9:56pm
OrinKerr:
Rather, you seem to be assuming that as long as a political protest is potentially illegal, it may be shut down in advance under normal warrant rules.


Huh? Where? I never said anything whatsoever about shutting down a protest. I think that's the problem: You're imagining an entire argument I never made, and then criticizing me for being "VERY flippant" in making it.
9.2.2008 12:46am
TruePath (mail) (www):
whit:


college professors ARE more culturally monolithich than cops. for one thing, they all (or practically all) have Phd level education. cops have everything from high school degrees (in those agencies that still hire HS only graduates) , 2 yr college degrees, 4 yr college degrees, law degrees (god forbid), masters degrees, and even the rare Phd.


Yes, virtually all college professors have a Ph.D. That's one dimension that causes professors to share certain views. On this dimension cops don't have as much uniformity.

However, symmetrically, cops all have training in law enforcement while some professors do and others do not. Virtually all cops frequently interact with law enforcement officers, criminals and the judicial system. Some professors do this and others do not. I mean I tend to think that having the responsibility of enforcing the law, experiencing the danger, hatred from some parts of the community, respect from others, and comradeship of being part of the police is at least as formative as going to graduate school.

I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that LEOs were substantially more divided than college professors with respect to democrat vs. republicans, gay marriage, national health care or other standard political survey questions. I was never trying to argue otherwise. However, do you really doubt that being a police officer, dealing with criminals and enforcing the law doesn't substantially shape (or attract) views about say restrictions on police powers or what sort of people are up to "no good." I mean we hear assertions fairly frequently on volokh from current and former LEOs that people who don't have experience in these areas are naive and just don't get crime or whatnot.

Hell, I don't even really need the fact that cops are particularly monolithic to make my point, only that they share the same associations and dispositions that most of us do. I mean since cops aren't idiots they will notice and internalize connections between certain sorts of people and possible behaviors. Hell, I'm a liberal and I couldn't avoid assuming that some anti-war protestor was a fuck ton more likely to try and illegally blockade a street than someone in a young republican's demonstration. Now even though this connection may be perfectly valid it still chills the free speech of law abiding war protesters if they are more likely to be arrested prior to their demonstration on the same evidence than someone with a different political view.

---

Fedya:

It is irrelevant that the Phelpsians intend to harass people. The point is that a different legal standard is being applied to people who engage in the same behavior (committing illegal acts to interfere with another group's constitutional protected freedoms to assemble and speak) based on their viewpoint.
9.2.2008 1:11am
TruthInAdvertising:
It seems that one of the goals of these enforcement actions in similar situations has been to detain potential protesters before they can get into action and keep them "on ice" until the political event has passed. The details of the warrant become less relevant when you have people sitting in jail for several days waiting for a court hearing. Often, these people are never formally charged but are released only after the opportunity to protest has passed. Sounds like there may be some of the same activity going on here.
9.2.2008 2:06am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr, this is what you said:

But if the group's website is any guide to the group's plans, it's certainly unsurprising that the police are trying to stop the group from executing its plans. The website explains that the "goal for Day One [of the convention] is to blockade Downtown St. Paul, so that the only show worth watching is the one we create in the streets."

If there's something wrong with what the police did here, it's not clear to me what it is. Perhaps the website is just a joke, and everyone knew it. I understand that the police had undercover agents infiltrate the group to establish that the plans were serious, and I imagine much of the cause in the warrant is from their undercovers.

In other words, you are treating this as a standard Fourth Amendment analysis. Blockading a political convention is illegal, the police have probable cause to believe that is the goal, so they went and arrested the protesters in advance of the protest.

In fact, in order to establish that this is legal, you either need to do one of two analyses:

1. Blockading a political convention is illegal, the police have probable cause to believe that a blockade is going to happen APART FROM ANY EVIDENCE OF INTENDED EXPRESSIVE ACTIVITIES BY THE PROTESTORS, and therefore the probable cause standard applies and is met.

OR

2. Blockading a political convention is illegal, the police can show that they have met the extremely heavy, almost impossible to meet burden to shut expressive activities down in advance rather than allowing them to occur and then arresting if the illegal blockades materialize, and therefore they have met the standard for a prior restraint.

If neither of these analyses apply, you have an illegal prior restraint. Now, as I said, maybe one or both of them do apply. But your analysis-- they have probable cause to believe that the protesters' expressive activities will cross the line to illegality-- reads the prior restraint doctrine out of the Constitution.
9.2.2008 2:34am
OrinKerr:
Dilan,

Please show me the case saying that a standard Fourth Amendment analysis is not correct when the police are not seeking to stop a protest, but rather are executing arrest warrants based on probable cause to believe a specific person is going to engage in an act of criminal violence (albeit one that, much like political assassinations, arguably has a speech component).

Also, I gather on your theory it would be a prior restraint to arrest members of an Al Qaeda cell for plotting a WMD attack if the cell members had not actually detonated the nuke yet? If not, why not?
9.2.2008 3:44am
Steve in CA (mail):

I've done several warrants where it was not done. Like one, where a kid had been selling a bunch of ecstacy from his parent's house. I'd personally bought from him several times.


I'm pretty sure it's bad etiquette to arrest your own dealer.
9.2.2008 6:01am
Loren (mail):
One of the items seized were 37 Caltrops. A device since midevil times to hinder the movement of horses. They always land with a point up. If a horse steps on it, it drives itself into the soft tissue of the horse's hoof, crippling the horse. Horse mounted officers are often used to disperse crowds, since the horse is imposing, and city folk are particularly intimidated by horses.

In addition, Caltrops can also cause blow outs of auto tires.

Finally, a line of police with riot shields, helmets, etc might also be slowed, and injured, due to trouble in seeing where one's foot was going.

Hard to understand what legal purpose Caltrops could have.
9.2.2008 12:34pm
NB (mail):
So, anarchists organize?
9.2.2008 12:56pm
Fub:
Loren wrote at 9.2.2008 11:34am:
One of the items seized were 37 Caltrops. ...

Hard to understand what legal purpose Caltrops could have.
If you are inferring "caltrops" from the "RMC 21 37 CAL TRUPS??? found in garage by TM." that I posted here, please double check with the original posted JPG to confirm your own transcription.

I'm not saying "caltrops" isn't what was actually written. I am saying that the handwriting was difficult to read and I may have misinterpreted what was actually written. The question marks indicate my uncertainty in transcribing.

So don't rely on my lyin' eyes. Rely on your own to be sure.
9.2.2008 1:52pm
d:
Professor Kerr, you fail to reply to what I think is Dilan's point. Again, this is what you said:

But if the group's website is any guide to the group's plans, it's certainly unsurprising that the police are trying to stop the group from executing its plans. The website explains that the "goal for Day One [of the convention] is to blockade Downtown St. Paul, so that the only show worth watching is the one we create in the streets.

So your analysis starts from the assumption that St. Paul police are motivated to "stop the group from executing its plans." Yet, its plans, as you state them, are to create a "show" that will be more "worth watching" than the convention.

In your own words, St. Paul police are attempting to "stop" a "show." How is that not prior restraint of speech?
9.2.2008 4:43pm
Loren (mail):
Caltrops is what I read, with my very own eyes.
9.2.2008 5:17pm
Scote (mail):

Loren (mail):
Caltrops is what I read, with my very own eyes.


You are, for one, assuming the police description is an accurate characterization of what they found.
9.2.2008 8:05pm