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What I did this week – The Republican National Convention

5 Sep

This week I worked for a liberal media group called The UpTake, which consisted of 15 or so videographers and photographers who documented the convention. We had live streams online of events as well as video of protests, concerts, raids, etc. You can see it all here:

I was at four protests which all ended in tear gas, pepper spray and concussion grenades. Interesting, to say the least. It was pretty disappointing that I couldn’t get closer to the actual convention, however. Sort of hard to do with 15 foot metal fences throughout downtown. St. Paul itself was dead. No one was really outside the perimeter of the Xcel Energy Center and the police presence was very scary and it all seemed like major overkill. It was a police state in all sense of those words. Riot gear, police on horses, bikes, foot, snipers on buildings.

There was a lot of tension between the public and police for most of the RNC. Obviously there were people who aggravated the situation and deserved to be arrested or needed tear gas to be dispersed. However, there were a lot of altercations where I witnessed the police as aggressors. Police maced and pepper sprayed photographers who were following police instructions, tackled reporters who were well identified as reporters, and pushed unaggressive people out of the way before even asking them to move. Reporters and photographers from City Pages, KARE 11, FOX 9 News and The UpTake were all arrested. There were, of course, a few protesters who made things bad for everyone. The “Black Bloc” anarchists who infiltrated the “Students for a Democratic Society” march on Monday broke store windows, pushed anything not nailed down into the street, and attempted to create barricades against the police. These people were definitely the minority though. Most of the students in the protest yelled at them and asked them to stop the vandalism. It was a sad state much of the time.

The worst that happened to me was walking through an area that was pepper sprayed about 30 seconds earlier. Yuck. I can’t imagine getting a direct hit of that stuff. It’s gross. Any time I was in danger I got out of the situation. A few of our reporters were arrested or detained, but all had the charges dropped as they were just there to document and not participate or condone the actions of the protesters or others. I was within a block of the tear gas and such more than once, but always made it out of the area without incident.

You can view the photos I took (along with some from others at The UpTake) here:

Day 1 of the RNC

Day 2 of the RNC
Day 4 of the RNC

Cheers –

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