Last week, activists in Cleveland got visits from some unwelcome guests: FBI agents inquiring about their plans for protest at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Like a plague of prying locusts, visits by FBI agents are spreading: yesterday, they landed in Minneapolis – St. Paul.
Eight years ago, St. Paul was the site of the Republican Convention that nominated John McCain and Sarah Palin. It was also the site of a massive police crackdown on protesters that included the massive presence of police in riot gear with helicopters circling overhead, unnecessary use of excessive force, arrests of journalists, spying, infiltration, informants, pre-emptive arrests and raids on activist offices and homes.
On September 3, 2008, six activists arrested during the raids, plus two others were charged under Minnesota’s version of the Patriot Act with criminal conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism. None of the eight are accused of committing any acts of violence or rioting (in fact, they were all in custody during the protests), and none were convicted of this crime. The charges were based on the accusations of paid informants who had infiltrated the activist group called the RNC Welcoming Committee. Now, one of those activists, Garrett Fitzgerald is being sought by the FBI for questioning regarding his plans for Cleveland. Here is an email he sent yesterday:
Dear Friends and Comrades, This morning, June 30th, two FBI agents, Christopher Langert and Harlen Johnston, stopped by the home of some friends in south Minneapolis trying to find me. From what I've been told they said they wanted to talk to me about, "keeping things peaceful in Cleveland." It sounds like they were visiting at the request of the FBI in Cleveland and from what I can tell at this point they haven't looked anywhere else for me. My best guess is that the reason I was singled out was that I happened to be passing through Cleveland 2 years ago when the RNC first decided to be there. I was invited by some friends to join a public meeting to talk about my experience with the 2008 RNC in St. Paul. At the meeting I weighed in on some of the key issues they were struggling with but really upset one person who accused me of "preaching violence" in an op-ed for a local news blog. While I don't think there is anything more that will come of this visit I am sending out this email and encouraging it to be forwarded widely because it is important that the state not be allowed invisibility. If you or someone you know has been or is visited please speak up. You can contact the NLG at ohionlg.com to get help getting the word out or to get information or training on how to handle encounters with law enforcement. This visit also triggers memories of the RNC in 2008. Both stressful and traumatic memories but also memories of doing great things with the support of so so many. In that spirit I want to encourage folks who aren't going to Cleveland for the Trumpocalypse to support those who are in the ways that you can. One way you can support people going, if you are in the Twin Cities, is to go to the fund raising event to send out a bus load of activists: www.facebook.com/events/
1010395215709917/ (or skip the event and donate here: www.gofundme.com/ DumpTrumpbustoRNC). Remembering that much of the unforeseen work and expense comes after the convention consider donating some extra cash to the Ohio NLG legal support effort or bail fund at ohionlg.com/rnc2016-legal- support/donate-to-rnc-legal- support-efforts/ Lastly, to those who hope to be in the streets during the RNC remember that you can't fight the biggest bully on the block without getting knocked around a little but you can't win if you don't show up. Thank you for showing up. Repression will happen so be prepared and make your actions worth it. Don't be foolish but do be bold. Stand with each other and seek the power that comes from being together not the illusion of power that comes from undermining one another. And fuck Trump, the RNC, and the State. With love and solidarity always and to the end, Garrett Fitzgerald (former RNC8 defendant denverabc.wordpress.com/tag/ rnc-8/)