ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Self-described anarchists vowed Tuesday to hit the streets of St. Paul every day this week, even as police were hoping for calm after violence near the site of the Republican convention led to more than 280 arrests.
"We are excited about what the next few days may bring now that the illusion of business as usual has been shattered," said Rose DaBarr, spokeswoman for a group called the RNC Welcoming Committee.
About 10,000 people marched Monday in an anti-war protest, most of them walking peacefully on a route from the state Capitol to the convention arena, Xcel Energy Center, and back. A splinter group that police estimated at about 200 people was blamed for attacking delegates, smashing windows, puncturing car tires, throwing bottles and starting at least one fire. A message from the Welcoming Committee put the blame on the police.
"Yesterday, in spite of a climate of intense police intimidation, thousands of people took to the streets to march in solidarity with the Poor People's March for Our Lives. Many others attempted to attend a concert at the Capitol, only to have the permit pulled and squadrons of riot police and snipers called out on a peaceful crowd," a typed message stated on their website, www.nornc.org. "The police met this call for justice with riot gear, batons, and the full arsenal of their weaponry. 'Snatch' squads brutally arrested protestors who were beaten and tasered. Police on horses, bikes and motorbikes rammed into crowds. Pepper spray, tear gas and flash bombs were used on peaceful crowds in situations that endangered protestors, the general public and included children, media, legal observers and medics."
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman called on protesters to "engage in proper political dialogue."
"We will send a very loud and clear message to those who choose to break the law and endanger the safety of others," he said. "We will pursue you, and we will not let this stand."
Authorities said 130 of those arrested faced possible felony charges. At least four of those arrested were journalists – including AP photographer Matt Rourke, Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman and two of her producers, who were injured during their arrests despite having press credentials and identifying themselves to the police. Their arrests were videotaped and can be viewed at www.democracynow.org. They have since been released.
Court proceedings moved slowly Tuesday morning as at least 22 people facing misdemeanor charges had refused to give their real names, said Dave Gill, a Ramsey County public defender. Paperwork was also backlogged. Only two people had gone through initial hearings by midday.
Police also raided the headquarters of I-Witness Video, a New York-based group that monitors police activity. The group was instrumental in proving that hundreds of arrests made during the 2004 Republican National Convention were illegal.
The anti-war march was organized by a group called the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, whose leaders said they hoped for a peaceful, family friendly event. But police were on high alert after months of preparations by the RNC Welcoming Committee, which wasn't among the organizers of the march.
The violent protests in St. Paul were a contrast with a relatively peaceful Democratic convention in Denver, where only 152 people were arrested during the four-day convention and the preceding weekend.