Protest planning is now a felony

Free Robert Joseph Czernik, Erik Charles Oseland, Garrett Scott Fitzgerald, Max Jacob Specktor, Monica Rachel Bicking, Nathanael David Secor, Luce Gullen-Givins, and Eryn Chase Trimmer!

These eight protest organizers, arrested before the RNC even got started, have been charged with “felony conspiracy”. Here are some of the things they did to receive this charge, according to the Pioneer Press:

  • One of the pieces of literature found at the office used by the group, at 627 Smith Ave. in St. Paul, read, “Okay, here’s the plan, it’s really quite simple: On September 1st, don’t let them get to the convention.”
  • When officers executed the search warrant on the office, they found 68 people, most from out of state, along with sector maps of St. Paul, flares, PVC pipe, slingshots and a 6 foot by 10 foot map with color-coded entrances and exits to downtown.
  • At 3:25 p.m. on Monday, as clashes between violent protesters and police raged, an informant told police that Czernik was inside a rented office at 287 E. 6th St. in St. Paul monitoring activities. When they arrived, officers found six police scanners, and they believed Czernik fled out a window.
  • Several of the eight went on tours to numerous cities and attended dozens of meetings to plan the protests.
  • That all sounds an awful lot like … protest planning!

    Let’s see, rounding up support in other cities, organizing with interested Americans all across the U.S. That sounds like an excellent protest planning strategy. Actually, that’s above and beyond what your standard American would do for his/her beliefs. Political action from the ground up…isn’t that a good thing?

    They were listening to police scanners during a protest. Is this illegal? The dude at the gas station down the street from me does this all the time, and the media has those things going all day, too. If I had friends who were trying not to get shut down by police, a police scanner would be a great tool to help them out. Hell, if the reports generated from the police scanner move a crowd before cops get there, isn’t that a good thing? Less clashing means less violence, right? Oh wait, these cops love throwing their concussion grenades and tear gas. So charge them with conspiracy to prevent a cop from having fun by hurting a bunch of protesters and press with mass crowd control weaponry.

    When the officers executed their illegal search warrant, they found maps marking different entrances and exits to the city and a bunch of smelly kids who were staying there. No crime yet (unless you take fire codes really seriously in the Twin Cities. Even then, it might not even be against fire code). Oh yeah, and some PVC pipe. You can see that in action holding up banners in just about any protest video or photo. Just a tool of the trade for protesting. Nothing illegal yet.

    They had some literature that read, “Okay, here’s the plan, it’s really quite simple: On September 1st, don’t let them get to the convention.” Here’s a good question, what law protects this convention, anyway? I’m sure there is a law about it, since the people going make the laws, but why should people be allowed to get to the convention? Sure, any person should be free to go wherever they want, but is that worth an army of cops to protect? I say, if your political party has pissed people off so badly that they are willing to risk their bodies shutting down every entrance to an entire city in order to keep you from getting to your big bash, then you don’t deserve to go to your party. Big deal. If you want a party next year, don’t piss the masses off. Democracy in action.

    All this aside, I am confused how having literature that talks big really counts as illegal here. Literature ain’t illegal. If I want to write something that gets people wanting to do something illegal, that is not illegal (unless it urges violence against a group). Shutting down every single entrance to a city with a mass of protesting bodies is not violent, no matter how you spin it. They are not throwing people from cars or anything. They are stopping traffic with dancing and a sweet marching band. (video courtesy of The Uptake)

    So, give them tickets for conspiring to commit a traffic violation, charge them $25 each and let them go. Anything more than that, and the cops will officially be declaring protest planning illegal.

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