Breaking: City Pages reporters maced, assaulted by police during protest
By Jeff Shaw and Andy Mannix via telephone
Protesters gathered at the Capitol today for what was rumored to be the biggest RNC march yet. The protest began peacefully, but Jeff Shaw and Andy Mannix are reporting that the situation has begun to escalate quickly. We will update this post with news as it happens.
6:02 p.m. Protesters are on the move, trying to find an alternate route to the Xcel Energy Center. Word is they are going to release tear gas in two minutes. -- Jeff Shaw
6:10 p.m. The police gave protesters a 10-minute warning, and when that was up people decided to try to find a different route. They started going toward the Capitol and were diverted onto the grass to the right, off the street. Then police on horses surrounded the group. One person, whose name is Tom Leon Hardt, got clipped with a horse from behind. The horse stepped on the back of his ankle, even though the policewoman on the horse had not given him a warning. When he turned around to see what was happening, the police woman on the horse said "Keep moving." He fell onto the ground and had trouble walking. Two medics came to tend to his injury. It was an unprovoked move by the policewoman to move him with her horse, and he is now injured.
The crowd attempted to go toward the Capitol, but police blocked off the route and the crowd dispersed to try to find another route. People are unsure where we are headed. We are at Cedar Street and Columbus, and police have formed another blockade at 12th and Cedar. The protesters are standing in front of police chanting. It's hard to tell how many police are here, I would say about 60-70. The protest crowd is estimated at 400-500.
There's obviously no plan here. Both sides are waiting for the other to strike. There is mostly peaceful protest taking place, with the occasional "Fuck you" shouted toward police, but no one is being violent. -- Andy Mannix
6:26 p.m. We just got the immediate dispersal order. We are at 12th and Cedar. They said we will be subject to arrest or they be forced to use chemical dispersal agents if we do not disperse. We have five minutes. -- Jeff Shaw
6:46 p.m. We just got assaulted by the cops. We're both fine. What happened was: the police at 12th and Cedar wanted to eject a small group of protesters, they surrounded the group and threatened tear gas. Andy Mannix and I were standing outside the circle, between the protesters and police, trying to take pictures and report. The police said we needed to leave, we showed them our press credentials. I said I was a reporter and that it was a public street. An officer struck me and knocked me backwards over a curb. I tried to get up, and three or four officers shoved me to the ground. Andy was maced. I got up, told them I was a member of the media, I asked them where to go. One of them struck me with his club. Eventually they jostled and threw me out of the circle.
The crowd is chanting "The whole world is watching." --Jeff Shaw
6:48 p.m. Jeff and I were standing outside the circle in the perimeter. Jeff and I were holding out our press passes. I tried to walk away. It was difficult to know where to go with so many officers, then one of them told me to "get the fuck down." I put my hands on my head. Another one started macing me from behind and sprayed up to my face when I was laying down with my hands on my head. Another told me to "get me the fuck up" and threw me outside of the police line. When they maced me I had my hands on my head, and I was on my knees.
Andy Mannix's back is wet with mace after being sprayed from behind.
The mace is coming out of what look like fire extinguishers. A foot and a half by foot stream of mace come out. Jeff got thrown on the ground. We were very clear we were from the press.
There is drumming. Police have made a pretty distinct perimeter. I haven't seen anyone get violent from the protesters' side. It's been a peaceful protest from my point of view. People aren't going home anytime soon. Police are stating this is an unlawful protest. -- Andy Mannix
7:24 p.m. The cops have cordoned off the intersection and are carrying off protesters one by one and arresting them. They maced at least one protester. -- Jeff Shaw
7:32 p.m. We're still at the corner of Cedar and 12th, on the other side of the police line. The cops have formed a pretty secure perimeter. There was one person who did not appear to be antagonizing police, I don't know if he had done something before, but cops ran out and grabbed him. There was a scuffle; he didn't get away. He got thrown to the ground and was roughed up. Everyone started running toward him yelling "Let him go! Let him go!" The cops were aiming their teargas guns at the crowd.
A large portion of the group is leaving now to continue marching. People are yelling "Let's take over a new street," while other people are yelling for everyone to stay. The majority of people are leaving and marching down 12th toward Robert Street, looking for a route that doesn't have police blocking it. -- Andy Mannix
7:43 p.m. I'm following the pack right now. We are walking directly away from the Capitol and toward the Cathedral. -- Ben Palosaari
8:01 p.m. Police are claiming to have found an explosive device on the John Ireland Bridge and a bomb team is working on it. Also, the Marion Street bridge is blocked due to protests, so there is virtually no way into downtown St. Paul from where we are.
We just heard concussion grenades go off on the Marion Street bridge, we are headed there now. -- Jeff Shaw
8:10 p.m. Shit is hitting the proverbial fan. We are behind Sears, Marion St. and Fuller Ave., there is a huge mass of people, no one really knows where to go because the bridges are closed. They are shooting concussion grenades, possibly smoke bombs. No one knows where to go. Jeff even asked police where to go, and they said "Just get the fuck out." She repeated it. People are scared. It's extremely loud. There is a big truck with a plow barricading the street. Everyone is running around, no one knows where to go.
Everyone is still chanting "Whose streets? Our streets." There are cops everywhere. On foot, on horses, on bike. About 200 people in the crowd, it looks like a different group than we were with before. We weren't following this group before, we saw them running around. There were colored smoke bombs, I don't know if they were from police or the protesters, but that's why we came over.
They are organizing a march now, locking arms. We are walking down Marion, I would say there are at least 200 if not 300 people locking arms and walking down the street. We are headed toward the Cathedral. We're about to run into a huge line of police. If they continue, in about 100 yards they are going to hit a line of cops. At the intersection of St. Anthony, there is a huge group of cops. There are cops in every direction. To the left, there are two dozen police cars. It's unclear which direction they want people to go. -- Andy Mannix
8:16 p.m. We just narrowly escaped a police quarantine. The crowd seemed to grow at Sears. They took to the streets heading east on University, blocking off two lanes of traffic. That's when the cops said "no further" and launched at least a dozen concussion grenades. That turned the crowd toward the Marion Street bridge, they had a whole line of riot police and a huge truck waiting for them. They told everyone to go down Marion, toward the bridge, and that's where we left them. They were being ushered with horses and riot gear cops. Once we got on the bridge, we told them we were press and they said, "Ok, you guys better get out of here." We are headed to our cars and out of here. -- Ben Palosaari