U student antiwar group finds itself on watch list

Local law officials included Students Against War in a list comprised of extremist groups.

Josh Linehan

Members of the University group Students Against War were surprised to see themselves listed among groups law enforcement organizations should track in a story in Wednesday’s Star Tribune.

The story was based on a speech Capt. Bill Chandler of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office gave to a group of emergency management personnel on “Understanding Terrorism in Minnesota.”

Students Against War was mentioned along with groups such as Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front and the Aryan Nation.

Nathan Mittelstaedt, a Students Against War member, said he was “shocked and disturbed” to see Students Against War mentioned as an extremist group for law enforcement to watch.

He said the group was targeted in part because of an alleged plot by members to leave cars in intersections to block traffic at a future demonstration.

“That’s never been discussed, and to my knowledge, it’s a complete falsehood,” Mittelstaedt said.

Students Against War did not organize a protest for Wednesday, when students from hundreds of colleges and high schools across the nation walked out of class to protest the possible war in Iraq.

Mittelstaedt said the group continues to plan a walkout protest to be followed by a series of teach-ins and a march downtown the day after the bombing in Iraq begins.

He said the group was in the process of contacting the University and Minneapolis police departments for protest and march permits.

Neither Chandler nor University Police Capt. Steven Johnson could be reached for comment.

Josh Linehan covers legal affairs and welcomes comments at [email protected]