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Mounted Cops Make Arrests at Reconstituted OccupyMN Protests — UPDATE: Local Reporters Assaulted, Arrested

8:47 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Live broadcast by Ustream

This just in from OccupyMN on Twitter:

“5 or 6 arrests at 9th and Nicollet including media and legal observer”

Make that eight arrests at least.

There’s a link above to the Ustream live coverage of the arrests. Apparently the MPD had been planning this from the get-go. A Tweet from three hours ago indicates MPD was tailing the Occupiers:

“Took the street, #mpd on our tail. Whose streets? OUR STREETS”

Undaunted, OccupyMN is now back at the Peoples’ Plaza (aka the Hennepin County Government Plaza) for a meeting in solidarity with their jailed Occupier kindred. Follow the OccupyMN Twitter feed for more information as it happens.

UPDATE — 10:00 am, April 8: This just came to me via email: Read the rest of this entry →

Shhh! Don’t Talk About the Tar Sands Protesters!

6:29 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

An exercise for the reader:

Google “minneapolis tar sands obama” or “minneapolis keystone xl obama” and see how many articles you find by the StarTribune, the Pioneer Press, WCCO, KSTP, TPT2, KARE, or FOX9 on these protests:

When President Obama arrives at the Minneapolis Convention Center he will be greeted by several dozen Minnesotans with a 20-foot banner that reads: ‘Pres. Obama, Yes You Can Stop the Tar Sands XL Pipeline.´

The rally comes as protests against the pipeline continue at the White House where more than 500 people have already been arrested in a rolling 15-day sit-in that started on August 20.

The controversial 1,700-mile pipeline project would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. and has become the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election. Notable figures such as author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, former Chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality and founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council Gus Speth, and NASA climatologist James Hansen have already been arrested at the White House in opposition to the pipeline.

Lemme guess — you didn’t find anything, right?

Well, maybe, you might have found this piece in the Minnesota Independent, but nothing by the local traditional media types.

Oh, well.

Classy John Gilmore Update: Now with Video

6:31 pm in jerks, Politics by Phoenix Woman

Thanks to Jeremy Ryan of Defend Wisconsin, who gave permission to AmericaBlog to post this on their YouTube channel, we now have video of prominent Minnesota Republican activist and party functionary John Gilmore right as he’s about to get arrested for harassing a few women who made the mistake of being openly Muslim in his presence.

Oh, and guess what? It turns out our very own Gregg Levine was an inadvertent witness to the start of the harassment:

OMG, after looking at the videos, I realize I saw the start of this whole thing Thursday night on Nicolette Mall. I assumed Gilmore was some drunk local or tourist. He was screaming in a sort of drunk-sounding slur, THIS IS AMERICA, and holding his camera three feet in front of his face and flashing pictures while he yelled at the women.

The women in hijab had this so under control, I felt no need to intervene. Really, they were calm and smart and mostly just told him they were practicing their religion and to leave them alone–and I felt they didn’t need some pasty NYer escalating things. I didn’t realize it did escalate after I walked on.

Gilmore came off as a screaming freak. I’m glad the police intervened–he was harassing the women. And since it is now theoretically illegal to take pictures of bridges, it should at least be investigated when someone tries to intimidate by snapping picture after picture of you when you are minding your own business.

And, now that it is in context, think what lies beneath. Gilmore is taking pictures to show how insidious the left Netroots is because we include these “obviously subversive terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.” I’m sure he thought he had some sort of scoop, himself. What a pig.

This tallies well with what we see on the video as well as with the various other eyewitness descriptions, such as these at City Pages, the local arm of the Village Voice:

Elisabeth Geschiere, a pedi-cab driver, was working on Nicollet Mall when she recognized a friend, Jamila Boudlali, standing outside of the Dakota Jazz club. She came over and started talking with Boudlali, and her friend Anwar Hijaz, who were downtown for an afterparty for Netroots Nation, the progressive political blogging conference. Both Hijaz and Boudlali were wearing Muslim headscarves.

That apparently attracted the attention of a gray-haired man — 52-year-old Gilmore — who suddenly approached the trio and said the name, “Ayan Hersi Ali.” Ali is a vocal, female critic of Islam. The three women tried to brush him off, saying they did not want to debate with him.

And that, according to cops and witnesses, is when Gilmore became belligerent, taking photos of the women, and demanding to know why they were in the U.S. Geschiere says when she asked him to stop taking their photo, things only escalated.

“He started saying things like, ‘This is America, welcome to America, this is the western world,’” says Geschiere. “So I immediately retorted like, ‘Dude, we all grew up in America.’”

As bystanders started to intervene, the shouting ramped up, and Gilmore started pacing around the crowd and yelling “Andrew Breitbart — hello!” into his phone. That was the first time, says witness and visiting Netroots Nation-attendee Matt Glazer, that he realized the man was a conservative.

“He made it sounds like he was about to hurt people, so then that’s when I called the police,” says Glazer.

More on this as it develops.

Note, ladies and gentlemen, that this occurred the evening before Andrew Breitbart’s attempt to sneak into Netroots Nation without paying. Much of the early scuttlebutt about this conflated the two events, leading to confusion that still exists today in some quarters.

(Crossposted to Mercury Rising.)

Republican Party of Minnesota Insider: Staying Classy by Harassing Women

5:33 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

For the record: John Hugh Gilmore is not an employee of Andrew Breitbart. While he is a conservative blogger (of the Minnesota Conservatives blog), he does have some standards.

Gilmore lives in St. Paul, and is a pretty big wheel in Minnesota Republican politics, being in tight with the Marty Seifert and Ben Golnik/Gregg Peppin crowd as well as being a prominent Republican Party of Minnesota functionary in State Senate District 65 and a state central committee member. He backed Seifert in the 2010 Republican race for the gubernatorial nomination, but dutifully (albeit reluctantly) climbed onto the wildly careening Emmer bandwagon once Emmer’s nomination was a done deal.

He also happens to be the person who was arrested last Thursday night for getting drunk and harassing two Muslim women of Middle Eastern descent. This is the incident that triggered a flash mob protest on Saturday’s session of Right Online, and accounted for some of the passion with which Andrew Breitbart’s attempt to disrupt Netroots Nation 2011 was met. Here’s Sue Wilson’s account:

.The story started the night before when two women ventured into the streets of Minneapolis wearing the traditional Hijab (headscarf.) They were approached by John Hugh Gilmore, a 52 year attorney and self described Conservative who blogs for “Minnesota Conservatives.” According to police, he asked the women what they thought of Ayaan Hersi Ali, a Somali who is a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who decries Muslims. The women told him they weren’t exactly fans. The inebriated Gilmore then became upset and started harassing the pair, asking what right they had to be in this country, until 60 onlookers intervened. Police were called and arrested Gilmore, but not until Gilmore tried to reach Andrew Breitbart on his phone.

Mind you, this is one of the persons who makes up the ‘respectable’ wing of the local GOP, capable of doing semi-credible defenses of Democrats like Terri Bonoff on invocations — though he muffs it when he attacks her for backing nondenominational ones only: “Invoking Jesus or Yahweh does not violate the separation of church and state. This misses the point entirely but then again MC has not found democrats to be well versed in either religion or the constitution.” Sorry, that’s not what the Fourth Circuit found.

This guy is, underneath his Brooks Brothers suit, a raging Islamophobe of the Bradlee Dean variety, and he shows it in his writings and now in his actions.

UPDATE: Well, whaddaya know — the local rocking-chair media actually have deigned to notice this story. Good on you, MPR!

(Crossposted to Mercury Rising.)

Countdown to Netroots Nation, Episode Three: The Skyways of Minneapolis

6:16 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

First-time visitors to downtown Minneapolis are often perplexed as to why the sidewalks often seem so empty. There is always lots of car and bike traffic on the streets, yet the sidewalks are comparatively bare of humans. Where did all the missing people go?

Look upwards, and you’ll find your answer: They’re in the skyways.

The Minneapolis Skyway System, like its twin in Saint Paul, was created starting in 1962 because, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, from December through February Mother Nature tries to kill us. It provides a quick, climate-controlled, stoplight-free way, summer or winter, to walk from Point A to Point B downtown. As this handy PDF map shows, almost any building you can name in the central core of Minneapolis is either connected to a skyway or within a block of one. Yes, that includes the Convention Center where the Netrootsers will be convocating, and it may even hook up to your hotel, depending on where you’re staying.

The skyways are rather like paved footpaths that burrow into the hearts of buildings, opening them up to the public gaze — and for public commerce, filling them with all manner of places for the busy downtown worker to have a quick cheap bite for lunch or to get a new pair of glasses or whatever. All of the various skyway shops, cafés and other establishments have nominal ground-level street addresses, but these are typically ignored in everyday usage. If one wants to get to, say, the wonderful and tiny Zen Box Japanese takeout place in the skyway system, one doesn’t think of it at its official address, which is 601 Marquette Avenue # 204; one instead thinks of it as “the really cool tiny Japanese place near MyBurger in the Quebec Six building across from Wells Fargo”.

Want to get around downtown the way the locals do? Go up, my friends, go up.