Prosecutors detail protest charges
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 at 5:34 pm
Twenty one people have been charged with felonies stemming from Republican National Convention protest activities, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. This includes eight individuals affiliated with the RNC Welcoming Committee who were the target of pre-convention police raids and face second-degree conspiracy to riot charges. Seven of them are being held on $75,000 bail, while the remaining individual is at large.
“We have watched as a few lawless people tried to overshadow a peaceful protest and the exercise of free-speech rights by thousands of law-abiding citizens,” Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner (pictured) said at a press conference this afternoon detailing the charges.
Prosecutors were initially provided 71 potential felony cases by police investigators. Six cases are undergoing further review, while the evidence in 44 potential cases was deemed insufficient to warrant felony charges. Of those 16 were referred to the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office for consideration of lesser charges, while 27 were dropped outright. For protesters arrrested on the opening day of the convention, authorities had to either charge them by noon today or release them.
Roughly 300 people have been jailed since the start of the RNC. Gaertner defended the large number of arrests, stating that under the circumstances it’s not surprising that a significant percentage of potential cases proved meritless. “Given the fact that these anarchists are trained to create as much confusion, as much of a melee as possible — to conceal their identity both on the street and while they’re brought through the process — it’s not surprising that every single one of these arrests cannot result in a prosecutable crime,” she said.
In addition, 47 protesters have been charged with gross misdemeanors through the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office, primarily third degree conspiracy to riot and obstructing the legal process. “A lot of these individuals are from out of town who have come here to create mayhem and it’s our intention to hold those offenders accountable,” said City Attorney John Choi.
Dozens of other protesters have been issued misdemeanor citations and released. In one incident alone on Shepard Road during Monday’s protests, more than 100 people were written up on charges of remaining at an unlawful assembly, according to a criminal complaint.
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