Monday, August 31, 2009

MASS WRONGFUL ARRESTS AT GOP CONVENTION

Sheila Regan, Twin Cities Daily Planet - Walking around St. Paul this summer, it's hard to imagine that almost a year ago the city was filled with tear-gas smoke, miles of security fences, cops dressed in riot gear, and tens of thousands of protesters during the Republican National Convention. While most of the charges against protesters, journalists, and observers have been dropped, some of those arrested on RNC-related charges find their cases still in process. We decided to do a roundup of the numbers of arrests, charges, and convictions for RNC-related cases on the local, state, and federal level. Here's what we came up with.

The City of St. Paul handled 676 RNC-related adult misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, far more than any other jurisdiction. Of these 39 were "declined" because of the city's September 19 decision to decline all cases against journalists. . . • 70 of the 676 protesters charged by the St. Paul attorney with misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors pleaded guilty or paid a fine. . . 508 of the 676 cases were declined or dismissed by the prosecution. . . Three cases went to trial.

Ramsey County dealt with 75 felony cases. Of these, 53 were declined without charges and 22 defendants were charged. . . Six defendants have pleaded guilty, two have been found guilty by juries, three cases have been dismissed by prosecutors, and 11 are still pending.

In Minneapolis, 102 people were arrested at the Rage Against the Machine concert. Of these, 94 people were charged with misdemeanors and one with a gross misdemeanor. Since then, 71 defendants entered into an agreement to suspend prosecution for one year and to pay court costs and do community service, before having their cases dismissed, Two defendants pleaded guilty to the charges, 13 cases were dismissed, two cases are open with pending court dates, and seven cases are on bench warrant status because the defendants did not appear for their court dates.

There were three federal cases related to the RNC. Bradley Crowder and David Guy McKay, the "Texas Two," were arrested on charges that they constructed Molotov cocktails to throw at police during the convention. Bradley Crowder pleaded guilty to one count of unregistered possession of a firearm (which is how federal law classifies a Molotov cocktail) and was sentenced to 24 months in prison. David Guy McKay's first trial was ruled a mistrial, and in the second trial he pleaded guilty to three counts, including one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, one count of illegal manufacture of a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm with no serial number. The third federal case involved Matthew Bradley DePalma, from Michigan, who pleaded guilty to the count of possession of destructive devices and was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

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