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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Secret Service infiltrates St. Paul

Does your intent to hold a protest classify you as a ‘terrorist threat’? As far as the Secret Service is concerned, it does. Sources allege that they have spied on, infiltrated and raided the residencies of anarchist groups in St. Paul, Minn., to keep them from protesting at the Republican National Convention (RNC). On Sept. 1, a group of about 2,000 protesters were headed off and surrounded by police officers at the RNC.

“The police greatly overreacted to the protestors and were violent far beyond the level that any of the protestors had been,” said Maria Rosales, assistant professor of political science.

According to CNN, the police, “along the exit route opened fire with gas and projectiles, (blocking their escape). In one instance . an officer stepped out of line to hit a young woman with pepper spray as she ran for the exit.”

The previous day, 283 protesters were arrested, 120 of which were facing felony charges. News & Editor reported that at least forty journalists were arrested.

The Federal Government has designated the Republican National Convention as a “national special security event.” This puts the Secret Service in charge of organizing security and spying on citizens who may be interested in protesting.

The St. Paul Police department also received $50 million in federal grants to hire, arm and train 3,500 additional officers, most of which are from Federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Coast Guard.

In preparation for the event, the Secret Service and FBI have attempted to infiltrate and monitor possible “threats.” In one case, a St. Paul man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was approached by FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola after having been previously arrested for a graffiti charge, according to the Minneapolis City Pages. She was looking for an informant, and thought that he had the right look for the job.

“She was looking for an informant to show up at ‘vegan potlucks’ throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors.” The man declined. Mazzola refuses to comment.

The protests have been stimulated by anarchist groups like the RNC Welcoming Committee.

On their website, the Welcoming Committee invited all those who oppose “rapid growth of racist militarized borders across stolen lands, the raids and deportations, destruction and commodification of our shared and living earth, police brutality and prison industry, fear propaganda and subjugation, exploitation and robbery of peoples worldwide, and all forms of injustice and oppression,” to crash the RNC.

“That the government spied on and infiltrated groups planning protests, and that some people in Minnesota have been brought up on conspiracy charges, is beyond excessive, and shows an underdeveloped respect for the Constitution,” Rosales said.

Rosales believes that protests are losing their political efficacy because of a lack of media coverage and because they rarely actually encounter the desired audience. However, protests can also help unify and motivate people of similar ideologies.

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