The Public i’s addendum to article on $50,000 settlement from FBI and St. Paul Police
In the November 2008 issue of the Public i, we published an article on the “preemptive” raids made by the FBI and local police officials on both people who were planning protests and on media people who were planning to cover the protests. These raids began after the 1999 Seattle protests against the meeting of the World Trade Organization. During that meeting protesters were attacked by the authorities and the image portrayed in the establishment media was of police only responding to violent protesters. This image was the catalyst for the creation of the Independent Media Movement, both in the US and abroad.
After Seattle, the Department of Homeland Security began to portray protest planners as potential terrorists. It set up regional “fusion centers” of federal and state policing agencies to counter this “threat.” Their violent and often preemptive responses to the 2002 protests against the World Economic Forum meetings in New York, to the 2003 protests at the Free Trade of the Americas meeting in Miami, and then to the 2004 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis reflected this militaristic approach to what they cast as a terrorist threat. Our 2008 article stated: “By linking the response to political demonstrations with the war on terror, and by using violence and trumptedup criminal charges against peaceful demonstrators, it [the federal/local combine] is creating a climate of fear and tension to discourage people from exercising their constitutional and human rights.” $50,000 is a pittance for so profoundly violating people’s fundamental rights. But the important thing is that activists fought back and won legal recognition that the government, which is supposed to protect the rights of the people, is indeed a major rights violator.