On the weekend before the Republican National Convention, law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities temporarily detained dozens of people and issued a series of search warrants aimed at groups organizing protests. Attorneys for the National Lawyers Guild said those detained and photographed included both local residents and visitors in town to protest the convention. At least three were also arrested on conspiracy charges. Bruce Nestor, a lawyer at one house, told the New York Times: “In my mind it’s a classic preventive detention charge.” He said the authorities are permitted to hold those arrested for up to 36 hours—excluding weekends or holidays—in essence detaining them for the length of the convention.
In the first raid, on the night of Aug. 29, the Ramsey County sheriff’s department, accompanied by St. Paul police, detained people in a building being used as a “convergence space” to plan protests. Those inside were ordered to lie on the floor as police searched the premises, then questioned and photographed before being released. Police said they were acting on a fire code violation. Sheriff’s deputies continued the sweeps on Saturday morning (Aug. 30), executing warrants for three houses in Minneapolis and two in St. Paul, detaining more than 50 people and arresting four. Some 30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entered homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lie on the floor while officers conducted searches, seizing computers, journals, and pamphlets. Among the residences raided the morning of Aug. 30 was the group home of the local Food Not Bombs chapter, where organizer Nathanael Secor was arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot.
A copy of a warrant at one house said the police were authorized to search for a laundry list of items, including fire bombs, Molotov cocktails, brake fluid, photographs and maps of St. Paul, paint, computers and camera equipment, documents and other communications. Residents of the targeted houses denied having any unlawful or dangerous materials. (NYT, Salon, Minnesota Independent, RNC Welcoming Committee statement, Aug. 30