At least The Flagstaff police seem to have been pretty laid back about it.
At 3 p.m. on March 28, 40 people dressed in black and red arrived with a shopping cart blaring music in tow at Flagstaff’s Heritage Square and began swinging cushions at each other. The feathers and fluff flew, but the mass of people also collided with the cops.
Part protest, part pillow fight, the event aimed to raise awareness of and protest the arrest of the “Republican National Convention Eight” (the RNC8).
The RNC8 protested the criminalization of dissent in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the 2008 Republican National Convention.
They were charged under the Minnesota PATRIOT act in response to their political organizing. They all face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a possible 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty. The legal expenses for those involved with the RNC8 are estimated to be $250,000.
The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organized labor unions for the International Workers of the World, also known as “the Wobblies.”
[. . .]
Aaron Levy, a second-year English graduate student at NAU donning a cat-ear cap, stood atop one of the Square’s benches and gave a speech through a megaphone.
“When we come to the pillow fight today, we want to show the world there is a better way to do things,” Levy shouted into his bullhorn. “You don’t need guns, you don’t need Tasers, you don’t need handcuffs, you don’t need politicians and we don’t need anybody but ourselves to operate in a world of peace and justice.”
The crowd cheered, and the cops crossed their arms.
[. . .]
The cops took Levy aside and began to question him about the complaints they received.
“You just gonna leave that out there?” Officer Condon pointed to the chalk.
“It will just kinda take care of itself,” Levy said.
“Nobody wrote anything vulgar or anything?” Condon asked.
“No sir. It’s just peace, love,” Levy said.
The cops let Levy go, and the group began to clean up the mess with borrowed brooms and bare hands.
Troy Farah and Matt Roberto, “Protestors ‘resist state terrorism’ with pillows“, JackCentral (NAU online news), April 2, 2009
The RNC 8 is for real, and they are all looking at 4-felony count indictments, 2 with terrorism enhancements:
Count 1 – conspiracy to riot in the second degree in furtherance of terrorism
Count 2 – conspiracy to riot in the second degree (without terrorism enhancement)
Count 3 – conspiracy to damage property in furtherance of terrorism
Count 4 – conspiracy to damage property (without terrorism enhancement)
The Felony Criminal Complaint against the RNC 8 seems to make a decent case that they intended to engage in disruptive protests at the RNC 2008 Convention, but a criminal complaint does not include any rebuttal by those charged, so it’s likely to look much weaker after trial presentation by the defendants’ counsels. The terrorism enhancements look unwarranted, without first considering how low of a hurdle one needs to clear before terrorizing a Republican. That’s as easy as telling one in a few short words you’re a vice cop, while talking in a public restroom facility. The prosecution’s case may have been irreparably harmed recently, when a primary informant used by The FBI was recently convicted on 3 misdemeanor counts, because of an incident last January in which he “kicked open the front door of a Minnetrista home in the wee hours of Jan. 11, (because) he ‘wasn’t comfortable’ with the two dudes accompanying his wife, as he would later tell police. So he beat shit out of them (the two dudes).” That blurs the line between terrorist and witness for the state.
Related Link: Defend the RNC 8 website