Local and national organizations urge Members of Congress to take action
St. Paul, MN — Local and national organizations issued an open letter today to Congressional Members Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), urging them to call for independent investigations into police misconduct during the Republican National Convention (RNC) recently held in the Twin Cities. The letter, signed by twelve groups, is seeking accountability for the police abuse and over 800 arrests that occurred during the convention.
Before the RNC, local and federal law enforcement conducted numerous preemptive raids on people’s homes and a public meeting space. During the convention, police indiscriminately used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and tasers against non-violent demonstrations, harming hundreds of protesters, journalists, medical personnel, legal observers, and bystanders.
“The widespread level of political repression has so far occurred with impunity,” said Kris Hermes, working with the Coldsnap Legal Collective, providing legal support people arrested and brutalized by police. “It’s crucial that the disproportionate police response be scrutinized by an independent investigation that includes the voices of people injured and other community members from the Twin Cities.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has hired two former federal prosecutors – former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger and former assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Luger – to review the city’s security plan for the RNC. However, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the investigation “will not be a fact-finding mission to explore allegations of police wrongdoing or violations of people’s rights.”
“The Mayor’s so-called investigation sounds like a whitewash of law enforcement’s orchestrated effort to suppress dissent in the Twin Cities from the outset,” said Rick Kelley, another Coldsnap member. “If the intimidation and unprovoked police violence is not scrutinized, what’s the point of an investigation?” The federal government provided a grant of $50 million to law enforcement during the RNC. Much of it was used to purchase weapons that the police then used against non-violent demonstrators. “These weapons will continue to be used by local police in the Twin Cities for years to come, unless we’re able to hold them accountable for their actions,” continued Kelley. “We owe it not only to the protesters and others harmed during the convention, but to the people of St. Paul and Minneapolis.”