Even by the loftiest of estimates, the crowds protesting the National Republican Convention in St. Paul this week have been a tenth the size of the crowds at the 2004 convention in New York City. But by Thursday afternoon, the number of arrests had swelled to nearly a quarter as many as in New York, reports USA Today. Protesters have complained all week that police have gone overboard in their attempts to quash potential violence and ensure the convention – being held at the Xcel Energy Center – proceeded without any interruptions.
“They most definitely created the police state they wanted,” said Jeff Sear, 26, a St. Paul technician arrested Monday and charged with a misdemeanor. Police began rounding up people before the convention started. On Saturday, eight members of a group called the “RNC Welcoming Committee” were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism. A warrant filed in their case stated they discussed kidnapping delegates. Tom Walsh, a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department, said 3,700 local, state and federal police sought a balance between providing a safe environment for conventiongoers and peaceful protesters and halting small, roving bands of would-be rioters.