Activist claims unmarked police vans abducted protesters
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday September 5, 2008

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A half-dozen representatives of the so-called Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee met with the media in a St. Paul, MN press conference on Thursday to condemn the widescale police raids and arrests that have targeted protesters in that city this week.

The strongest accusations were made by RNC Welcoming Committee co-founder William Gillis, who has been among those planning the protests for the last two years.

"Police kicked down doors with guns drawn on families with their children at dinnertime," Gillis charged. "Reporters and the media at large have been repeatedly targeted for repression. Activists have been abducted off the street in unmarked vans and political prisoners held without access to medical attention."

The allegation about police use of unmarked vans was apparently first made on August 31 by RAW STORY contributor Lindsay Beyerstein, who was reporting on the convention for FireDogLake. She wrote that "ColdSnap is reporting 9 arrests downtown near the Excel center" and then added in an update, "One of the 9 protesters arrested was a nun, seen being loaded into an unmarked blue van. The 9 were apparently trying to climb a fence near a church." All nine were released later that day.

Other representatives of the protesters used the press conference to affirm that they were not terrorists. Betsy Raash-Gilman, a twenty-year veteran (doc) of non-violent activism, stated, "There are no terrorists up here. There are no terrorists in the Ramsey County jail. There are terrorists in the Xcel Center. There are terrorists in the White House."

This video is from the Associated Press.

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