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Emergency action alert: Twin Cities protesters imprisoned without charges; human rights abuses in Ramsey County jail. Free all political prisoners!


I received a message this morning from ALLy Soviet Onion. If you are in the Twin Cities area, please join the vigil outside of the jail. If you are not, please call to demand the release of all protesters being imprisoned without charges and respect for the human rights of all prisoners.

Incidentally, since yesterday, the total number of people arrested has now risen to over 800.

From the Coldsnap Legal Collective, Sept. 2nd, 2008:

Over 300 protesters, bystanders, media, and medics arrested at RNC

Two minors sentenced to 30 days in adult jail

St. Paul, MN – Two days into the Republican National Convention (RNC), more than 300 people have been arrested, including at least 120 people for felonies — mostly the notoriously vague charge, conspiracy to riot. With no provocation, police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate protesters. Police appear to be specifically targeting videographers documenting these police abuses. In response, lawyers have filed a federal restraining order against such conduct.

By the end of the day today, only 12 people had been arraigned. Many arrestees are refusing to provide identification, in order to call attention to what they consider trumped-up charges and to collectively bargain. These tactics are designed to protect the most vulnerable people in jail, and take a page from the history of labor solidarity, said Rick Kelley of Coldsnap Legal Collective, an activist-based legal collective supporting the arrestees. Based on the vagueness of their charges and the program of police intimidation currently underway, these individuals understand how they will fare if they don’t stick together. The court has been imposing the maximum bail of $2,000 for misdemeanor defendants.

In an unusual court decision, Ramsey County Judge Paulette K. Flynn today convicted two minors of criminal contempt for refusing to provide their identity. The two minors were then sentenced to 30 days in an adult jail facility. This decision undermines one of the most fundamental human rights concepts in the justice system, to protect the rights and safety of children, said Jordan Kushner, Mass Defense Committee Chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s Minnesota chapter, and an attorney for one of the minors. This shows the willingness of the courts to go to any length, including sacrificing the most important due process rights, to answer to the political pressure to persecute activists.

Many arrestees are also being denied medical attention. One arrestee with hemophilia and another with asthma are being denied their prescription medication. An arrestee with a broken finger is being refused medical care, as is a person who has been coughing up blood. An anemic woman reported to Coldsnap today that she passed out for 20 to 30 minutes due to iron deficiency and was told that she could not receive iron because it was a prescription medication, and because she refused to identify herself. Iron is in fact an over-the-counter supplement. The same anemic woman reported seeing a Sheriff knock another woman to the ground and drag her out of the room by her hair. Just because people have been jailed does not mean their health should be put in jeopardy, said Kelley. This is a matter of compassion and basic human rights. An unknown number of arrestees are also engaging in a hunger strike to put pressure on the jail to provide needed medical attention for other prisoners.

Under Minnesota law, detainees must be released after 36 hours if the court fails to review and affirm probable cause for their charges. This 36-hour period will expire at noon on Wednesday.

From Soviet Onion:

This report was released by Coldsnap on Tuesday the 2nd. It’s now Thursday the 4th, and protesters are still being held without affirmation of probable cause.

In response to the anemic woman’s denial of medication, fifty of the other women being held with her have begun a hunger strike in solidarity.

Coldsnap legal has also reported that within the jail, trans-folk in particular have been denied their phone calls, and are being placed in cells opposite the gender they identify with and in which they do not feel safe.

In addition, there are unconfirmed reports of ICE agents intimidating detainees with foreign-sounding names.

What you can do:

Right now there is a constant 24-hour vigil outside the Ramsey Co. jail house at 425 Grove St., St Paul, near the intersection of Grove and Lafayette St. Despite continuing harassment from riot police outside the jail, we are providing support and services to our friends and community members as they are released. In order to have a round the clock presence, we need lots of people to come hang out and help out at the jails. If you are interested in getting on the outtake schedule, please email Lindsey at lindshives@gmail.com. Otherwise, just show up and bring your friends! We’ll be there 24 hours throughout the RNC, starting Friday night after critical mass.

Out-of-towners can still help us put pressure on the assholes responsible by calling their offices and demanding an end to these practices:

  1. Immediate medical attention. [Jail staff are reportedly lying about medical attention being given, so don’t believe them if they say it has]

  2. Arrestees to be allowed to meet in group(s) with their lawyers.

  3. Dismissal of all charges.

  4. Release of minors from adult jail.

  5. Ensure trans folks have access to phones, attorneys, and are held with the gender group of choice

Direct your complaints to:

  • Mayor Chris Coleman, (651) 266-8510
  • Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, (651) 266-9333
  • Ramsey County Chief Judge Gearin (particularly important due to the courts being late in reviewing their charges), (651) 266-8266
  • Head of Ramsey County Jail Captain Ryan O’Neil, (651) 266-9350

See also:

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