Police anarchists

RNC lawsuit marks a chance for citizens to check constitutional violations.

During last yearâÄôs Republican National Convention, the main perpetrators of anarchy were not the few discontent protesters who smashed storefront windows or lit a dumpster ablaze. No, last yearâÄôs RNC was perhaps the closest this nation came during the Bush era to outright systematic violence perpetuated by our government onto its citizens âÄî often, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately, 27 citizens subject to some of Ramsey County Sheriff Bob FletcherâÄôs arbitrary and unconstitutional tactics are fighting back with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. According to news reports, the suit alleges police arrested and jailed roughly 200 protesters on the first day of the convention without probable cause. Some of them were merely trying to go to a concert on Harriet Island. Some of them were members of the media. Most were peaceful protesters. To be sure, the mass arrest on Shepard Road on Sept. 1 was not the only, nor was it the epitome, of police misconduct during the convention. Much of the constitutional circumventions on behalf of FletcherâÄôs gang occurred before the convention itself. Moreover, with any large event in a large city, officials should appropriately prepare for the worst. And a Republican political convention is certainly no exception. But Fletcher and his well-funded and heavily-armed police apparatus went too far. Before the convention, raids were based on perceptions and slapdash intelligence. During the convention, amuck police officers in riot gear beat up and detained peaceful protesters and members of the media. During the Republican National Convention, armed officers representing the government and paid for by taxpayers crossed the strictures of the First and Fourth Amendments, often violently. With this lawsuit, the checks of our democratic system ought, at the very least, recompense the victims of these arrests. At most, the lawsuit will teach our elected officials that anarchy âÄî a state of lawlessness âÄî directed by the government is much more troublesome than anarchy directed by the citizens whom it purportedly serves.