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Terrorism charges lodged against protesters at GOP convention

Prosecutors in Ramsey County, Minn., have formally charged eight alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee -- one of the groups organizing protests at the GOP convention in St. Paul -- with terrorism-related charges, The Times' P.J. Huffstutter reports.

Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty they could face.

It appears to be the first time criminal charges have been filed under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal Patriot Act.

The RNC Welcoming Committee is a self-described anarchist group that has worked for months planning disruptions at the convention. Police blamed the group for sparking violence during Monday's antiwar protest in St. Paul. Although most of the estimated 10,000 people at the march were peaceful, police say a splinter group of about 200 people harassed delegates, smashed windows and started at least one fire.

Police have arrested nearly 300 people during the confrontations this week, according to the Associated Press.  Huffstutter reported on the protests for the blog Tuesday. And this morning, we told the story of journalist Amy Goodman's arrest at Monday's march.

-- Kate Linthicum

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This is so unfair. They caused some trouble, yes, but they are not terrorists. More fascist behavior from the Republicans.

While they may not be terriosts they are being very disruptive,violent and unamerican trying to surpress either convention is wrong! I'm personal sick of the far left there passion for politics and the violent attitude they display when you don't agree with them.It's ok to have diffrent opinions thats what it's all about if your that concerned that you need to get violent maybe you should grow up run for office and change things!Not attacking the police smashing windows and trying to destroy a city in the process if your so high and mighty on this great moral protest why wear masks?


I just watched Palin speak and what stuck me most about the Republican convention was the number of empty seats. There were whole sets of bleachers that were completely empty: TOP TO BOTTOM AND SIDE TO SIDE, ROW AFTER ROW, SCORES OF ROWS!!! And, the Xcel center is a hockey rink, it's A relatively small location.

Are they trying to start a war?

This charges will NEVER stick. If they make them stick with the catch-all conspiracy laws, political conflict on this continent is guaranteed to escalate to a whole new level.

DOC what is un-American about dissent? Not one damn thing! It is the reason we have these United States of America. Your brand of Republican politics is on the verge of Nazi fascism. If you don't like it move to a fascist regime somewhere in South America and see if it suits you. I stand behind the right to dissent. When our founding fathers set up this great nation a free speech zone was anywhere an American stood. Now our borderline fascist government is trying to make it a crime to speek one's mind about how dissatisfied we are about having our freedoms impinged upon.

These anti-terrorism laws were for US all along. They are going to be used to smash political dissent (dissent from government, according to our founding fathers was the highest form of patriotism.)

If these people destroyed private property, then they should be punished. You don’t have the right to deprive someone of their property. We already have laws that address that and they should be prosecuted. However, they were protesting the government when they were arrested and thus charged as terrorists. Read that again and let that sink in. They were protesting the government when they were arrested and thus charged as terrorists. Protesting the government = terrorism. That is a dangerous precedent to set.

If you think that they should be classified as terrorists because you don’t agree with their political views, then put yourself in their shoes. Do you think people protesting at an anti-abortion rally are terrorists? What if the Democrats re-instated the assault weapons ban and you protested that – are you a terrorist? What about the organizers of the Boston Tea Party? Were they terrorists? King George certainly thought so.

Wake up! The door is about to close on your freedom.

while I do not agree with the vandalism and violence that some of the protesters caused this is just another step in the Police State. Charging them with "terrorism" is another step in turning this country into what it will become.

This country needs to snap out of the Left vs Right mind control and wake up now, because this is getting out of control. We dont have 4 more years to wait. Neither the Dems nor the Repubs are going to fix our economy or the wars. We are screwed if we do nothing.

They were only disruptive AFTER police started violently attacking them, for the horrible crime of exiting their so-called "free speech zone" isolated cage, hidden far from the cameras and public eye, in order to be seen and heard. The violence was a response to what the police were doing to them, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I for one WILL NOT LIVE IN A POLICE STATE and anyone who would is NOT A TRUE AMERICAN.

the right to protest this government is protected by our constitution,. all americans are in danger of losing our rights,. we must make stand,.
and I am not a leftist,.,.,.

First they spiked the fears after 9/11, passed laws restricting our freedoms (justifying it by appeals to foreign terrorism, one of the most vague terms you can find), extended terrorism laws to include domestic surveillance, passed laws that gave local police Home Land Security authority, and now are arresting political protesters as terrorists. Where do we go from here?

The combination of "mission creep" at Home Land Security and apathy on the part of the citizens will, inevitably lead to fascist social control. No doubt about it.

It may already be too late to reverse this trend because the social forces leading us to it are so strong. Only an informed and alarmed citizenry, and a defeat of those politicians who fan the flames of our fear, will put a halt to it.

Which politicians are whipping up our emotions and fears? Did you watch the Republican Convention?

Your opinion and threats are what Im talking about! I have served and fought for this country so put a sock in I'm not leaving without a fight! I'm an independent and make my choices not based on pol parties! When you plan distruction the way this welcoming gang did and are doing.There's a problem What if one of those police officers were killed and left a couple of little kids without a father ?That could happen because of punks! that hide behind masks because you are just that punks!That don't deserve Men and Women putting there lives on the line for them.The corupption is throughout our government Rep and your friends the Dem's too!You identify the coruption and don't put the SOB back into office based on fact not media bias or B.S.From CNN,FOX,NBC as well as many news papers find out what your rep's are doing hold them accountable It starts at home in our own states.Don't hurt inocent people with the so called dissent I have a problem with that and thats what I see here! I'm all about freedom and I don't agree with you I'm not going to attack you because I disagree thats your right in a free country It's my right to say were not close to nazi rule just because I don't agree with you dosen't mean I have to leave thats freedom it works both ways not one way that would be close to what your talking about right?I hope no inocent people get hurt because of a radical group of punks that can't control themselfs and don't give me the crap about police brutality There doing there jobs protecting the freedom of inocent people that are in there city like it or not they have rights too and nobody and I mean nobody has the right to take that away!Thats FREEDOM GET IT !!!!!!

I'm please to see that Steven (and all the rest) support my forefathers in their righteous dissent against federal authority and their god given right to disenfranchise themselves from the USA and form a new union under the Confederate Flag.

Terrorism charges are a huge step from what actually has happened. Broken windows? So, vandalism is terrorism - good - now I know what the punk kids are with their spray paint cans - they are terrorists!

The government Cointel Program continues to this very minute. Government agent provocateurs in collusion with elements of the police department, FBI, CIA, Secret Service, etc. infiltrate legitimate groups, provoke incidents, and then set up the patsies to take the fall. The "terrorist" disruptions in Minneapolis will be used to hasten the passage of legislation making it's way through Congress to clamp down on the "violent domestic terrorists". The REAL TERRORISTS had written the Patriot Act in advance of Sept. 11, 2001, but rushed it through Congress with no opportunity to even read the full document before voting. The fascist agenda then proceeded with an avalanche of legislation and presidential signings which makes the prospect of Martial Law in the U.S. loom ever larger. Wake up, People. This bogus " War on Terror" is promoted by both the Republican and Democrat parties. Do not give your stamp of approval this November.

Well gee !! Now that unruly dissenters are not only charged with criminal acts (good) but charged as terrorists? What's next?? Just throw the pepper bullets away, like they did with tear gas, and just shoot to kill next time?? "They're terrorists...isn't that what we kill terrorists? Join the club....EVERYONE IS A TERRORIST IN AMERICA NOW, just ask the TSA goon at the airport, because there hasn't been many real terrorists to justify the fascist Patriot Act....even on 9/11, an incredible inside job of major proportions.

I am an independent and first of all i read Patriot's comment rebutting your comment and in no way did they threaten you. Dissent is a very important part of being American. We as a people should infinitely check our governments motives on their policies whether there be a Democrat or Republican in power. In regards to the protestors, they broke some windows and started one fire, and the responsible parties should be dealt with for those actions. At no time was there a cops life on line; those guys are dressed like storm troopers for God's sake. I don't see how the police can get away with beating and macing non-violent protestors. The actions of the police are more terroristic than some kid breaking a window in my opinion. This is a government for the People, by the People, and of the People; NOT Corporate America.

Something maybe thats being overlooked here is you do have the freedom to protest I'm not against that what I'm against is the violence assoc with it and the lack of respect for someone else's opinion Rep or Dem.While you don't see a problem with breaking windows and setting fires and whatever other damage that may have been done I do ! Thats my opinion.Remember one thing most of the police depts are union which in turn normally supports the Dem party.When there on the job it doesn't matter what party it is they are there for all's safety left and right.The picture of a masked punk hitting a cop behind the head and dropping him to his knees is enough to kill someone!While that may not be the intent it could very well happen then what do you say?Sorry?The police have to make quick decissions when large possible violent crowds gather when your not there we only see bits and pieces Things can get out of control really fast and if I'm going to lay blame on anyone it will be the people going out looking for trouble! Just look at there web site they promote the violence.Take that energy control it be the watchdog protest the corruption in the senate and congress when you see it hold them accountable make it public and get them out of office!Surpressing someones opinion is wrong and there's no room for it !There are good and bad in both parties and not just one party put us where we are today deal with facts not properganda!

First the right to assemble cannot be infringed by putting protesters in specially marked areas where they cannot be seen. The Bill of Rights does not allow this. So right off the bat the "good" cops are really the bad cops because they violated these people's right to assemble.

Second many arrests were made BEFORE the "terrorists" had actually even left their homes. This is Nazi Germany, East Germany, China Russia all wrapped up in a neat little terrorist package. Now if you protest the government you are a terrorist. The people of the America will not let this stand much longer

We're setting a precedent here,people.This is the danger in going along with this.Disruptive behavior is NOT terrorism.The new political climate of this country allows for previously minor charges now falling under the scope of terrorism.In the future all crime will be terror.The Patriot Act was not put into effect to prevent terror.It was put into effect to control the population through fear and intimidation.Countless people were assaulted and kidnapped by the police who did not deserve it.Last time I checked the Bill of Rights,the entire country was a "free speech zone".Don't make the mistake of labeling this a left-right issue.That false paradigm was designed to keep us arguing amongst ourselves.We cannot continue to allow them to keep us in-fighting.Take a stand and take back our rights.They are being systematically removed by design.Don't think that things will change if Obama is elected.These policies will be handed over to the next administration,regardless of the party.

I did not know that our government was located in Minneapolis - I thought it was still in DC? IF you want to protest govebnment actions - go to Washington. These protesters chose a wrong target - a party convention. Who said that the right to protest is superior to the right of assembly by the Republicans, or Dems , for that matter?

Too all of you that seem to have so much of a problem with the police depts in this country because there nazi's terriosts or whatever label you want to use.Whens the last time you have called 911 and someone asked you about your political assoc?When there's an emergency who do you call?Think about who you call your local PD!I guess it's ok to call the nazi's when you need help hun.You can call them all the names you want but when you really need them they will be there for you because they are there to protect and serve and they don't pick and chose who they help!There are alot of good people in law enforcement in this country(yes some bad)Just wondering who your going to call if lets say someone raped one of your children or maybe broke into your home or maybe your car is stolen are you going to call 1800 NAZI or 911alot of people talk out of both sides of there mouths when it suits them.Think about who your calling names when your the one looking for help!

The Constitution protects non-violent protest. It does not, however, protect vandals.

I would agree that these acts were not terrorist acts and should not have been prosecuted as such but if you allow people to break windows and start fires without recourse, you will have total anarchy.

The people who were violent should be punished under existing local or state law. There is no excuse for that.

WAKE UP PEOPLE! This isn't about right or left... WAKE UP AND VOTE 3RD PARTY.





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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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