With activists and citizen journalists pouring into Minneapolis in advance of the Republican National Convention (which starts September 1st), police there are already getting warmed up for what's sure to be another full-frontal assault on the bill of rights – which won't surprise anyone who protested the GOP's last convention in New York City.
Late Monday night three videographers from the New York-based Glass Bead Collective were detained by Minneapolis police officers, who spent about an hour questioning them and searching their belongings. In the end, they were released without charges, but they say officers confiscated a number of personal belongings, including their video and computer equipment, cell phones and clothing.
According to the group's lawyer, they were walking from a bus stop to the place they were staying in Northeast Minneapolis around 2 a.m. on Tuesday when two Minneapolis squad cars stopped them. They were first told that there had been car break-ins in the area, then the officers frisked them, photographed them and questioned them individually about their travel plans and what they intended to report on. “We kept saying we do not consent to any search,” Anita Brathwaite told the Twin Cities Daily Planet. To make matters worse, the group claims that police refused to give them a receipt for their equipment and personal belongings.
According to a statement released by the Lawyers Guild assisting protesters in Minneapolis, police asserted that "they were allowed to conduct the search and seizure under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security due to security risks leading up to the Republican National Convention." (The police report obtained by Daily Planet lists an unspecified "Homeland Security Offense.") The videographers had been walking by a railroad, and Daily Planet reports that police were seeking a warrant to search the items for evidence of trespassing in a railroad yard, a misdemeanor offense, but a lawyer tells us all their belongings have been returned, except for some cash and Brathwaite's license.
The Glass Bead Collective was instrumental in obtaining and publicizing a video last month that showed an New York police officer bodyslamming a cyclist to the curb during a Critical Mass bike ride. The NYPD has been advising police departments in Denver and Minneapolis on how to handle protesters during the protests.