By and large, the police did a good job, but not always. So concludes a review of law enforcement activity leading up to and during the Republican National Convention Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A seven-member blue ribbon panel delivered its findings yesterday. They contain fault and praise at nearly every stage. They note that the city’s size – it is one of the smallest to host such an event – proved a challenge for police, who were faced with groups of “well-organized, sophisticated and tenacious” activists determined to disrupt the event through violence. Given there were no deaths or serious injuries and relatively minor property damage, police rose to the occasion for the most part, according to the report.
Th panel concluded police made key errors in planning, such as not allowing regular patrol officers to communicate with special convention squads. The panel also flagged examples of potentially excessive use of force and suggested such actions “warrant further review.” Some who have been critical of police actions criticized the commission, which was paid $130,000 by the city, as producing a whitewash. The convention went off smoothly, as did demonstrations where thousands spoke out against a range of military, social, and economic policies. The event also witnessed unprecedented chaos in the streets as vandals smashed windows of businesses and threw debris onto Interstate 94 and armed themselves with urine and feces – a previously disputed assertion confirmed by lab testing and witness reports. Police cracked down with concussion grenades and chemical irritants, employing mass arrests that swept up everyone nearby, including journalists, resulting in more than 800 arrests.