Hold police accountable

Perhaps the impolite interjections from the crowd during WednesdayâÄôs St. Paul City Council meeting âÄî when the city-appointed commission charged with investigating security at the Republican National Convention presented its findings âÄî were inevitable. The scene was comical, in a way: Two former U.S. attorneys announcing to the council and a crowd of irreverent critics of police action at the convention that the city attempted to promote a soft police presence until âÄúviolent anarchistsâÄù had descended on the city. What the commission failed to do âÄî and what those critics intermittently called for âÄî was to likewise label aggressive police behavior as violent and unlawful. The report itself has misgivings. Chief among those is that its language is too harsh towards what it dubiously called âÄúviolent anarchistsâÄù (not to be confused with the more coordinated violent conservatives and liberals). The incident on the Marion Street Bridge the evening of Sept. 4 âÄî when police arrested roughly 350 people, including journalists, after herding everyone on the bridge âÄî âÄúhad the feel and appearance of mass arrest.âÄù But the âÄúanarchistsâÄù were not âÄúunruly college students or wayward kids. They were violent criminals intent on causing harm to person and property.âÄù If the latter is true âÄî and there are many indications it is âÄî itâÄôs also poorly worded and reflects the report’s tendency to highlight incidents of civilian violence while glossing over incidents of police violence. We do not condone either. But some individuals have already been held accountable for their violent actions at the convention. It would be a shame if St. Paul refuses to apply the same standard to its police force.