Questions are emerging about the tactics that St. Paul police used to control the many rallies and marches that took place during the Republican convention this month, reports the New York Times. City officials have appointed two former federal prosecutors to review the planning and strategies used by the police before and during the convention. Tom Walsh, a spokesman for the St. Paul police department, said officers had performed well in unusual conditions, sometimes facing hundreds who he said were intent on disrupting the convention or damaging property. “No one was treated for a serious injury,” Walsh said. “You're going to see that the amount of force used, in my view, matched the need.”
Although most of the demonstrations were peaceful, small groups of masked figures smashed windows, attacked a police car, and knocked an officer to the ground on the convention’s first day. More than 800 people, including about two dozen credentialed journalists, were arrested. Dozens more were handcuffed and photographed without being accused of any crime. Some police officers used pepper spray, tear gas, bullets made of plastic, and foam and flash grenades that exploded with a burst of light and a sharp bang. The last two Republican conventions, in Philadelphia and New York, were marked by arrests and recriminations. New York City still faces more than 500 federal court claims stemming from police tactics. While 1,800 people were arrested at that 2004 convention, there were a proportionately high number of arrests in St. Paul, where the protests were much smaller.