[Video] Violent Police Deny Free Speech at RNC

<embed align=”right” id=”VideoPlayback” The following describes my experience as a protester being mistreated by the St. Paul police during the RNC. My name is Jodin Morey, and I’m a Cofounder of Impeach for Peace.The police abuse I’ll describe includes the use of concussion grenades, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons.

I joined the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign in a march from Mears Park On September 2, 2008 at 4 p.m. Having heard that some peaceful protesters had been arrested the day before, I was concerned about joining this march. I had been the one to reserve a one-hour slot on the protest stage at 1 p.m. on the following day. National speakers had come from around the country (Ray McGovern, John Nichols and Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait). The St. Paul Park and Rec. had made it clear the stage would only be available if I were physically present with my driver’s license at the time reserved. I therefore had decided to join the march with the idea of being extremely cautious to avoid any interactions with the police that could result in my arrest.

I was dressed as a Guantanamo Bay detainee to protest the denial of habeas corpus as a human right. There were speeches that went on for a very long time. The organizers spoke about human rights and the need for housing, education, and health care. There was a scuffle between the police and some of the protesters during these speeches, but I was not in a location to see what occurred.

Before we began the march, the main organizer had each of us raise our right hands and repeat after her that we would behave peacefully and non-violently. She also stressed that this was important because there were children in the march, and some of them were hers. I saw the organizers intercept some people wearing black bandanas over their faces and black clothing and told them they were welcome to join the march but only if they promised to be peaceful and non-violent. They told the leaders of the march that they were going to be peaceful.

The march then began, and it was extremely long. It felt as if it were about a five-mile march. All along the march we were shouting slogans like, “Stop the war on the poor,” “If they say cut back, we say fight back,” and others. We went by the St. Paul Capitol where we stopped and invited people who were rallying there to join us. (I found out later that these people were gathered to listen to the band Rage against the Machine). We then continued to the Xcel Energy Center. The march came to a halt in free speech zone just outside the Xcel Energy Center. For those of you unaware, the free speech zone consists of a tall fence separating the public from the Xcel Energy Center in front of which is a buffer zone populated by riot police in front of which is another high fence.

Next, the lead organizer got on the shoulders of another marcher and through a bullhorn announced to the protesters that she was going to deliver a citizen’s arrest to the doors of the Xcel Energy Center for crimes against humanity. She made us raise our right hands again and promise that we would stay right where we were and to be peaceful. Everyone I could see raised their hands and repeated the promise back to her. Then she went to the free speech gate that separated us from the front doors of the Xcel Energy Center. She spoke through her bullhorn to the nearest police officer, who was dressed in riot gear.

She told that officer that she wanted to deliver a message to the people at the RNC. She told the officer she was not violent. She expressed that she did not want him to shoot or taze her. She expressed that she wanted to deliver her message to the delegates and was looking for his help in doing that. She suggested to the officer that he could deliver the citizen’s arrest, or that he could escort her to the RNC, or that he could bring someone from the RNC to receive the arrest warrant from her. But, of course, the police officer on the other side of the gate refused to respond at all, and she settled on just placing her message through the gate and asking the officer to have someone come and get it. She informed the officer that it was only a piece of paper and an American Flag so that the officer wouldn’t confuse her actions as anything but peaceful. Prior to sliding the citizen’s arrest through the gate, she asked the police officer if it was ok that she slide the message through the fence, but he did not respond. She delivered the citizen’s arrest and then she left the gate and the march was apparently over at that point.

People started to disperse. As the march had been long, many people were tired. At least 100 people remained in the free speech zone to rest and hang out. Nearly everyone sat down and quietly chatted amongst themselves. I sat down with them, took out my cell phone, and made a couple of calls. I removed my Guantanamo Bay hood at this point and left it off for the rest of the evening. I was sitting with my back against the free speech zone fence along west 5th Street. Then the person next to me borrowed my cell phone and made a call. We were not protesting or being rowdy, nor were we waving any signs or banging on the fence.

About 15 minutes after we sat down, we saw police gathering outside one end of the free speech zone (near the corner of west 6th Street and Main). The riot police opened the gates, came in, and started marching towards us in a line. Some protesters who had been closer to the police officers when they entered the free speech zone called back to the rest of us. They informed us of the officers’ message that we were engaged in an unlawful assembly. However, I only learned this through word of mouth. The officers did not announce it over a bullhorn. I found their accusation odd because we were in a free speech zone that the city had specifically set up so that we could gather to protest the RNC.

I took a picture of the police line-up. As the police came toward us I asked the officers closest to me why they were pushing us out of the free speech zone. While I was asking them this, they were shoving their batons forward in unison and shouting, “Move, move, move!” I was backing up as they were asking us to do. I told them I was moving but was curious how this could be an unlawful assembly since this cage was set up specifically for protesting the RNC. I also made the point that we had been behaving peacefully. They refused to answer me except to say, “It’s an unlawful assembly.” I kept questioning them, “By what criteria did you determine this to be an unlawful assembly?” They would not answer me. I kept moving.

I took a picture of an interaction between the riot police and some people (I believe they were with Code Pink.) They had a bicycle that was chained to a tree, and they were attempting to free it. The police were attempting to stop them by shoving at them with their batons. The bicyclists did eventually free their bikes and rode away. A protester next to me suddenly was pepper sprayed. I did not see them do anything aggressive. They were close to a police officer, but I wasn’t watching at the moment just prior to the spraying. I took a picture of him being helped by the other protesters to decontaminate his eyes.

We then heard loud explosions occurring behind us, which drew our attention. Many of us continued backing up down 7th Street towards St. Peter as directed by the police, which was where the explosions were taking place. As we approached St. Peter (near Mickey’s Diner), we were met by more riot police who had their guns trained on us. That caused me to stop in my tracks and raise my hands above my head. Those around me then saw what appeared to be the concussion grenades detonating at the northwest corner of 7th Street and St. Peter. Upon exploding, the grenades were ear piercing, released a lot of smoke, and produced light flashes. I was not sure why they were setting off the grenades. We were trapped at this point, between two rows of riot police. Protesters in the crowd were expressing concerns over which way we were supposed to go. After a short while, the police officers moved allowing a small space to open at the northwest corner of the intersection (near where the grenades had been detonated). One police officer approached us and pointed towards the opening and indicated that we could either leave in that direction or be arrested. I (and many others) very quickly obliged and walked through the opening, not wishing to get arrested.

Given how the police officer directed me, I was under the impression that I was in an appropriate place. I started to slowly wander away in the general direction that the police officer had originally directed me. At this point, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, Michael Cavlan passed by me, also heading north. He asked if I was ok, and we exchanged disbelief at how the police were behaving. I also got out my cell phone to let my friends, who might be worried about me, know that I was ok. I feared that if they’d heard about this incident in the news, they’d be worried.

I called one of my friends and was talking to them when all of the sudden I heard bullets firing from behind me where the police were lined up. I also heard ricocheting around me, letting me know that they were firing towards me. At this point instinct kicked in, and I started running out of fear. I informed my friend who still on the phone with me that I had to go because I was being shot at. I left the cell phone connected to my friend as I ran so that they could be a witness if necessary. A few seconds after I started running I felt an impact on the left side of my back. It felt like someone had punched me. I did not stop to check how I was because I was still trying to get away. Then I saw in front of me another line of riot police who ordered me to get on the ground.

I dove to the ground on the west sidewalk of St. Peter somewhere between West 7th and Exchange Street. Several police barked an order not to move, while pointing their weapons at me. I let go of my cell phone and Guantanamo hood so that they would not mistake them for weapons and placed my hands beside me on the sidewalk. I said, “I am not moving, I am not moving.” I lay there for a little while and then I heard someone walk up beside me. I then heard what sounded like a camera shutter going off a few times before that person wandered off again. I believe that it must have been a police officer taking my picture, as the reporters were not being treated any differently from the protesters. If there had been a reporter around me when the bullets were fired, I believe they would not have been able to freely move in the area with out the police addressing them.

A few moments later, an officer in riot gear approached me and told me I could get up. As I got to my feet, the officer asked me if I was ok. I replied, “I don’t know.” I obviously had not checked my back yet, as I was not able to move while on the ground. I also was not sure if shock had caused me to underestimate the possible damage to my back. But the officer must not have been terribly concerned about my well-being because he told me to continue north on St. Peter without checking out my back. I believe they must of known they shot me. The reason I say this is because they ordered me to the ground, took a picture of me, and asked me how I was. After asking me how I was, however, he showed in his response a clear lack of concern for my well-being. The only other motive I can ascribe to his having asked me how I was is a possible desire to relieve themselves of liability for having injured me with the hope that I would say I was okay When I did not say I was okay, he did not choose to continue the conversation, perhaps because he did not want to open up the conversation to my having been hurt.

I asked if I could pick up my cell phone, not realizing he had already picked it up. He held it out and said he didn’t know if it is was mine. I also asked if I could “get my hat” (Guantanamo hood) but he said he also did not know if that was mine so I did not pursue it further. The police were extremely intimidating with their guns pointed at me and barking out orders. I felt that if I engaged in any type of conversation with them, I was risking being maced or having them hit me with their batons. So, instead of getting badge numbers or inquiring into how I’d later obtain my stuff, I abandoned my things and walked north with my hands above my head. Reporters were videotaping my walk and had possibly been recording my interactions with the police.

I arrived at an intersection where the protesters and reporters were gathered at the location (around 10th Street) that seemed consistent with where the policed wanted us to be. Once there I checked my back by just touching it and seeing if it hurt. From what I could tell, I didn’t seem seriously hurt. I asked a reporter to borrow her cell phone so I could let my friend know that I was safe. I assumed that they were pretty worried about me after my previous phone call.

After I got of the phone, within a minute or two, once again I heard a ruckus and everyone started to run away from the spot closest to the police towards the north again. The police apparently again were trying to move us by the use of tear gas or pepper spray without first giving us an audible warning. I did not stick around in an attempt to find out exactly what was happening. Instead I tried to get out of the area once again by heading north. When I reached 11th Street, I turned the corner to the east and removed my Guantanamo Bay jumpsuit. I did this in case the police had any residual negative feelings about me and might associate it with the suit. Then, as I continued eastward, I saw another line of officers and therefore asked someone near me if it was safe to head in that direction. The person indicated that the police were rounding people up and that it as not safe to go that way. I backtracked to St. Peter and attempted to cross the bridge over 94 to the north. Once I was clearly away from all the activity, I checked my back more thoroughly and saw that I had a red spot where the bullet had hit. It was obvious at this point that the bullet had been some non-lethal version (rubber bullet). Luckily, I was then able to get to my car and drive home. Since then, despite my numerous attempts to retrieve my cell phone and hood, the St. Paul Police refuse to help me find the cell phone when I call their offices.

I’m still unsure how citizens were supposed to express their free speech during the RNC if not in the free speech zone set up by the city. I’m also not sure how someone in the U.S. is supposed to avoid police brutality if the police aren’t expected to give individuals who they are about to abuse, fair warning of how to avoid that abuse by following whatever directives they feel are necessary. I am in talks with the ACLU, however. They have preliminarily agreed to work with me on a lawsuit.

Jodin Morey


  1. For you rational people reading this thread (the insane have been banished) are wondering what Jodin’s side might have looked like if he had suffered a direct hit rather than a glancing blow, check out the picture of protest organizer Mick Kelly from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:


    Fortunately the cop shooting at Jodin placed dead last in marksmanship at the academy and forgot his 20/200 correctional glasses that day.

  2. Mikael,

    Sorry I’ve been absent; life’s a bitch and then you die. My insurance company wouldn’t cover needed treatment and I had to talk to them. A lot. As long as profit is a motive for insurance then this will happen. Only when profit is removed as a motive will there be no competition between the provider and the people being served.

    On paper the idea of capitalism makes sense. People do what they can to get profit but as soon as that starts people start cutting corners. People say that their customers won’t know or care because we’re holding out a big and fancy bit of tin foil for them and they’re stupid enough to believe all that. All I want is what I need to survive and I am owed survival as a human being. We all are.

    Well, I’m not dumb enough to believe that. I get it. The only way for justice is for people to have the same goal in mind. When a company wants to make money its going to do it on MY back, and YOUR back because they don’t care about anything but the money. And when essential services, such as health care, and housing, and energy costs, and food, are concerned, that just won’t work.

    Capitalism has failed and completely failed if you want justice. It’s great for capitalists. But what if you don’t buy into the big profit motive and only want a dedicated life?

    But I’m not that sure about socialism either. It seems that it gets corrupted too. I think that there are good people, or ernest people, in the Democratic party who are concerned with social justice, but they always sell out. And I don’t really want to think about forcing justice on people because I’m not ready for that. It hasn’t worked that well. I’m just a bit disheartened.

    Even if there was [sic] pictures, I’d question it.”

    So you demand photographic evidence, then state that wouldn’t satisfy you anyway. Do you have any idea how ridiculous you are making yourself look?

    Chubby… you need a hobby other than:

    GOP disinformation troll dedicated to lurking on a website where the vast majority of well-informed readers recognize you as an off-base, irrational kook who has very little idea what he is talking about and often appears to have lost touch with what the subject matter of a particular thread is by his second or third entry.

    “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

    ~ Henry David Thoreau

    It is so sad to watch you choke on the song so long ago caught in your throat.

  4. Jodin,

    You are to be commended for attempting to communicate rationally with Chubby, but I am afraid your efforts are in vain. He has proven over months of entries to be incapable of sustaining even the most basic civil discourse.

    On the average, one in every three comments he submits are inappropriate or simply unintelligible.

    Don’t waste too much time trying to be reasonable with him – you’d make better headway trying to teach the squirrels in your front yard to perform Shakespeare.

  5. Chubby, I don’t know if you just didn’t bother to read the article, but here’s the text again…
    “Once I was clearly away from all the activity, I checked my back more thoroughly and saw that I had a red spot where the bullet had hit. It was obvious at this point that the bullet had been some non-lethal version (rubber bullet).”

    So, it was just a red spot. It faded. What else do you want? There are no pictures. The concern I raise in the article is not centered around the extent of my physical injury but about the free speech issues, and the cop’s responsibility to communicate clearly before attacking people who wish to abide by the law.


  6. I am not sure where the “Reed Welt of Courage” is, but the “Red Welt of Fascist Support” is on your oversized ass, Chubby.

    Are you ever going to address anything close to the issues? You have some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder that seems to keep you fixated on minutiae while critically important issues fly right by you ever instant.

    Seriously… do you have an opinion worth sharing about the specific issues Jodin’s treatment by the police represent or not?

  7. I had a woman visit me here in WI, she’s originally from Ghana, but now resides in St. Paul.  She told me that she couldn’t believe how the police were treating protesters.  She saw a few of them use their clubs and some make arrests.  She was appalled…this was her first time seeing freedom and democracy here in the US on this level.  She said, ‘I left Ghana for a chance to be free…I expect to see this is Ghana or other third world countries, but not here.  So exactly what is the message the US govt and the police are preaching to the world?’
    Much Love and Respect,

  8. Cold Warrior,

    Are you seriously telling me that when the enemy shot bullets at you, you just stood there and let yourself be killed? When I ran, I was in an indefensible position with no weapon, and did not know if I was being shot at with live bullets or not. You seem to also suggest that I should have shot and killed the cops. This makes me think you are a total nut. What is more likely the case is either that you’re projecting your (claimed) war time experience on a situation that doesn’t apply, or that you’re desperately grasping at straws to defend an indefensible position. Either way, grow up.

    And by the way, I wasn’t suggesting the police officer attend to my feelings. I was pointing out the discrepancy between his feigned interest in my potential wound (which no one at that time knew whether I had or not) and his lack of follow through. But, my essay made that obvious. So, what’s actually the case here is you’re grasping again for an excuse for your indefensible position.


  9. Checkov,

    Getting true progressives, populists and full accountability advocates into office is a major part of the solution.

    This is because the Democratic Party National ‘Leadership’ in their aiding an abetting and enabling are just as much part of the problem as the war pigs themselves who have taken over the Republican Party.

    Ask yourself why the Democrats have allowed bills in both the House and the Senate that would outlaw voter fraud through “caging” to languish without action.

    Why? Because the Democrats at the national level are infiltrated by power elites who are really Republican-lite – totally sold out to big business and global market elite bankers.

    At the highest levels, the difference between Dems and Repubs in DC is virtually indistinguishable.

  10. Mikael, in a way I hope that our Constitutional rights are trampled more and more. Only that way would the People rise and demand a stop to this excess. There has been a march toward peace and justice by kindred spirits who are embedded in the social services, the judiciary, the legislative staffs, and the foundations. And this only makes sense. You cannot attack bastions of privilege from without, with a pea-shooter. And it’s inefficient to use a siege engine.

    During the middle ages people got into the bastions of privilege by sapping their foundations. Burrowing under the walls of the castles with tunnels, putting in braces and pulling them out and the walls came down. Then the attackers, who were led by just more enemies of the people, got in. That was a wash.

    But today we have had success in sapping the entrenched interests by using like-minded citizens who burrow into the organizations.

    And now the groundwork is laid. It is time for sweeping legislative reform so that the workers control the means of production. Only in that way will there be justice and peace.

  11. Jodin did nothing illegal.

    And got shot in the back with a rubber bullet.

    Do you have kids? If one was shot in the back with a rubber bullet while playing on a playground or in your backyard would you say: “He knew beforehand the risks he was taking, that there might be consequences to what he was doing, and now he’s complaining because he was faced with those consequences, which don’t appear to be anywhere near as bad as they could have been.”?

    Jodin was obeying the law. There should have been no consequences. Even though the order to disperse was not needed, he was in the process of obeying that order as well. What he suffered along with many others was a fascistic police state crackdown on an entirely legal protest march. This isn’t Soviet Russia. This wasn’t Tianamen Square in China. This is the United States of America and our 1st Amendment Rights were under attack in Saint Paul.

    I pity those such who lack the intellectual capacity to understand what our Constitutional liberties and freedoms are worth and that they are worth protecting. Worse yet, it is people like you who will support the ongoing destruction of those liberties with your votes and with your voiced opinions.

  12. “Yes, we (my unit) had to kill them. That’s war.”

    So in your mind, Jodin “ran away” so that makes him a coward?

    So… you think Jodin should have disobeyed the police instead of following their orders exactly as he did, that he should have stood his ground and fought the police to the death? That would have earned your respect? That is what you would call bravery? Dying at the hands of a police officer in riot gear? Suicide by cop? That is your twisted mind’s view of reality in Jodin’s situation? Are you kidding me?

    Man… you have some serious mental and emotional issues, Dude.

    Sorry the Republicans took away any chance that you will ever get mental and emotional support from the V.A. You should get it. You’ve earned it.

    Now check the last dozen or so bills for Veterans’ Benefits. Check out who really has your back. Check who claims to “support the troops” but votes against Veterans’ Benefits. Oh they vote to fund the wars of aggression and conquest, no question there… gotta gain access to that oil… but when it comes time to take care of our honorable men and women who have served their country with their lives, their minds and souls? A different story entirely.

    Just be clear who votes to take care of you once you are home. Be honest about it. Check it out.

    If you would like I will even look it up for you if you like.

    But I think it is best if you do the looking yourself, then you will know it is true and that I am not making it up.

  13. First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly were trampled upon. Journalists being rounded up with the protesters and even people who just happened to be nearby looking for the place to catch a bus out were swept up.

    I can’t open your mind to understand what our Constitutional Rights are worth, but there is no excuse for you not grasping the fact that they are being systematically trampled under the Bush Regime and that abuse of our Rights is spilling down to law enforcement who were led and coordinated by federal authorities during the RNC.

    $2,000,000.00 (Two million dollars) was just paid out by New York City to settle the cases of 56 protesters who were unlawfully detained during the 2004 RNC. Their Rights were violated and the courts rewarded them damages because of that. There is no way you can rationally deny that to be the truth. What happened in Saint Paul was an even more pervasive illegal crackdown.

    Journalists from Glassbead Collective who had documented much of the police brutality and extralegal activities in NYC in 2004 had just arrived in the Twin Cities to document the 2008 RNC and were raided, falsely accused of crimes they didn’t commit, had their cameras, computers, wallets, money, keys and all other personal items taken away. Then they were released without being charged. Do you see what that means? It is a preemptive crackdown on journalists committed to covering police tactics during the RNC in an effort to suppress the truth and to avoid being held accountable for their illegal plans and activities against citizens planning to protest.

    Name one of our Rights codified in the Bill of Rights and I will tell you how it has been damaged and compromised by the Bush Crime family during their occupation of the White House.

  14. I was there with Jodin and saw him being fired on by police. He was doing nothing, hands in air, then hit the ground. I am proud of Jodin.

    For the record, I was busy doing Street Medic duty, treating others who had been brutalized by police, when I saw Jodin being attacked

    Glad you are well Brother.

  15. Cold Warrior/Margaret,

    I’m not sure who you think you’re impressing or convincing. You’re displaying yourself as childish on these posts. It’s obvious to everyone that when someone hears bullets being shot at them, and that person is unarmed, that the only rational thing to do is to seek to avoid being shot. Anything else is idiotic. Grow up.


  16. My lord but that must have been difficult. I don’t think that I could have handled it. When I was 25, and had a 50″ chest from working out, a five-year-old child looked at me funny and I soiled my pants. But I didn’t run–I noticed that the wheels in on his wheelchair were locked. I ran to the police of course protesting that I was being assaulted with negative energy from the child, who looked like he was trying to get out of his wheelchair. If he’d have had legs I wouldn’t be here talking to you.

  17. Preemptive police brutality! Wow, they don’t even wait for a “reason” anymore! To me this smacks of a police state. Say what you will, but the proof is in the pudding. Now the big questions are, how long are we going to put up with this? And, exactly what are we going to do about it so it doesn’t get any worse? I can easily imagine this on a NATIONAL scale…

  18. Police can step down because the are about to lose,even myself will be there to protest.
    I don’t support that corruption and I help destroy it.

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