Tag Archives: St. Paul

The frequently cited St Paul Principles had their time and place: ST PAUL


In my circle they’re called “Saint Paul’s Principles” because my colleagues think the edicts are Catholic I guess. The St Paul Principles came from St Paul Minnesota, circa 2008, and were formally adopted by the varied groups organizing to disrupt the Republican National Convention of 2008. They’ve lived on as guiding principles for activists of all ilk. In 2011 many Occupy encampments ratified the StPP as their own code of conduct, indifferent to whether they were applicable or even beneficial. Let’s examine the well intended dogma. Do they apply universally? Are they constructive? And how did they work out for St Paul? The last one is easy. As you may remember, disruption of the 2008 RNC failed spectacularly.

The St. Paul Principles

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.

2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.

3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.

4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.

It’s hard to argue against this elegant expression of solidarity. With the SPPs, the protest organizers aimed at preempting COINTELPRO style disruption from generating conflict within the movement. The implicit condemnation of violence was of state sponsored violence, not authentic barricade defense. And no snitching. The SPPs addressed the problems which were already scuttling Denver’s 2008 DNC protests. In Denver, “Recreate ’68” planners let the press infer they meant to revive the Chicago riots of 1968, prompting almost every traditional social justice group to circulate a contract which everyone was expected to sign. It was a vow of nonviolence. Organizations who refused to sign were ostracized and could expect the violent police clobbering they invited.

Essentially the SPPs aimed to unite the nonviolent and non-nonviolent activists, to ensure neither denounced the other, and that physically neither wound up caught in each other’s fights or sit-ins. Probably the chief concession was being asked of the nonviolent crowd: Please, as long as we promise not to shroud your family atmosphere and your baby strollers in tear gas, please let the Black Blocs do their thing without your repudiation. Please. We share the same goals.

Can you begin to see where such a strategy might fail to lead?

But the St Paul organizers did share the same goals. Their aim was to disrupt the RNC via a strategy they called “3S” actions. SWARM, SEIZE. STAY. It’s easy to see why three years later Occupy Wall Street was attracted to these directives. “3S” defines Occupy and another three years on, OWS activist followed the 2014 Climate March with an action called “Flood Wall Street” the instructions for which rephrased 3S aquatically.

The “movement” to which the SPPs refer shared a goal, to disrupt the RNC, by means of swarming, seizing, and staying, by whatever tactic each member group wanted. They shared a further agreement, that the city of St Paul was to be partitioned in sectors allowing groups to conduct their actions in isolation, united in time, but separated geographically so that red zone, yellow zone and green zone participants needn’t mix and find themselves out of their respective confort zones.

The groups organizing against the 2008 RNC shared one more thing in common, bound as they were to the St Paul Principles, they were all signatories to the principles.

Do the St Paul Principles apply universally?
It’s easy to see that the 2011 OWS occupations in major cities across the country shared a similar goal. It was, if perhaps more vague than to prevent a party convention, to disrupt the wheels of commerce by means of encampments; the “3S” tactic now reduced to a single verb “Occupy”. Allies such as unions and antiwar organizations, while sympathetic, cannot be said to have shared the same determinaton to disrupt. Even MoveOn with their “99% Spring”, FireDogLake with their merchandizing, and Adbusters had to relent with the revolutionary rhetoric. Eventually OWS spinoffs like Occupy Sandy Relief began to serve functions diametrically opposed to disruption. Did they expand the “movement”? Of course. But did the more inclusive “movement” outgrown the capacity for St Paul Principles to maintain its unity? Are activists bent on disruption expected to respect and support activists determined to prevent disruption?

I know it’s lovely to imagine every social justice effort as anti-authoritarian, and whether nonviolent or indulgent, each comprises a unique wing of a broad anti-government movement. If you are prepared to pretend that everyone’s aims are progressive, we share similar enough goals and we are reformists. But if some aims are revolutionary, explicitely anti-Capitalist for example like Occupy Wall Street, then reformists are counterrevolutionary. If you think reformists aren’t Capitalism’s first line of defense, even as they consider themselves activists, then you don’t know your adversaries from your allies. To imagine that activists shouldn’t address such chasms of understanding in favor of upholding popular delusion is going to get a movement nowhere.

At last year’s Climate March in NYC, the prevailing sentiment was against Capitalism. The organizers didn’t want to mouth it, but a vast number of marchers began to grasp instinctively that Capitalism has no solution for Climate Change. The anti-Capitalist movement can become “the movement” but reformists will have to understand they are obstructionists before they as individuals can be said to share the common goal.

The St Paul RNC Welcoming Committee aimed to disrupt the Republican National Convention for a WEEK. Can activist groups as they grow and transform over years and compete for membership and community resources expect that they shouldn’t be critical of one another’s missteps or aggressions even as their goals diverge?

How scalable are the St Paul Principles? Do they apply to no matter who considers themselves part of a greater “movement”. Do they apply to signatories and non-signatories alike?

Are the St Paul Principles constructive?
I would argue: Hardly. While it seems safer to segregate the Black Bloc from the civil disobedients from the family picnic crowd, you’re not going to reach critical mass with each on its own. With public dischord still in its infancy and while we have nowhere near the numbers to defend against or deter violent repression, perhaps it is only reasonable to program our street protests according to color zones, as if marches were amusement rides for protest tourism.

If you’re satisfied to lead combatants to jail and probation for mere symbolic shows of defiance, and you’re prepared to let nonviolent activists subject themselves to brutality which even when filmed will not awaken the conscience of the sociopathic oligarchs, and you’re resigned to let the masses burn themselves out with boredom given nothing to challenge their apathy, then the St Paul Principles are for you.

How to resist someone else’s arrest

A SPPD officer was dragging an arrestee along the street at an RNC protest when he was body-blocked for a fumble and INTERCEPTION!
RNC arrest rescue
A feat of great courage, with a plain-clothed cameraman opposite. Officer unfriendly reacted by spraying mace as he exited the jeering crowd.

Video from THE UPTAKE:

The UpTake captured video of a St. Paul police officer dragging a “black bloc” protester away from a bus, only to get tackled from behind. The officer sprayed a chemical agent all around him but ultimately lost the suspect and called for backup. Video by Corey Becker.

Mainstream media ignores RNC arrests

(Masked civilian below is a reporter who didn’t report what he saw.)
Reporter watches RNC park arrests
RNC protesters in St. Paul are coming up against preemptive arrests and arbitrary detentions. Do you hear about these events? Houses raided, suspects held without Habeas Corpus, a prominent journalist arrested. These are getting no coverage from the mainstream media. TO THROW SALT ON THAT: On Public Radio International’s news-lite program THE WORLD, a correspondent lamented the Gustav-upstaged convention and so filed a story decrying his and his fellow international journalists’ dearth of news to report!

Let’s see, the Republicans raised money for those threatened by Hurricane Gustav. Senator McCain kicked off the GOP fund with a $25,000 contribution. In proportion to he and Cindy’s net worth, that’s a tithe of 0.025%.

RNC marchers charged with felony riot

RNC arrests Monday
SAINT PAUL- These people have been herded from the streets to a park by the river. As riot troops close in, people were told to place their hands on their heads and that they are being arrested. Watch as some are tear gassed as others, credentialed journalist embeds, are issued gas masks. Elsewhere, Amy Goodman is arrested and later released. Two of her producers are being detained on FELONY RIOT charges.

This follows the arrest of an ABC reporter in Denver. Not a legal precedent hopefully if the ACLU can help it:

DENVER – Following news reports and a video showing Denver law enforcement agents ordering a reporter off a public sidewalk and pushing him into the street and later arresting him, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado called for renewed protection of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and a free press.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“The physical removal of ABC reporter Asa Eslocker from public property and his subsequent arrest are a blatant assault on the First Amendment. Arresting a reporter for simply doing his job is both unconstitutional and un-American. That free speech is curtailed during the Democratic Convention underscores the need for continued protection of civil liberties, regardless of the party in power.”

The following can be attributed to Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado:

“The arrest of Asa Eslocker is the latest of several troubling incidents in which law enforcement has mistreated dissenters or others exercising their right to free speech dissent during the Democratic National Convention. On Monday hundreds of people were rounded up by police, detained without access to attorneys and denied the most basic due process protections. Arrestees were flexi-cuffed together so that they couldn’t even use the bathroom alone, and in at least one case a woman was forced to walk barefoot and in leg shackles into a courtroom. The First Amendment is supposed to be the cornerstone of democracy, but some law enforcement agents in Denver have shown a complete disregard for the right to free speech.”

St. Paul’s Democratic Party mayor encouraging police violence against protesters at RP convention

Mayor ColemanJust like in Denver, the Minnesota Democratic Party is now encouraging an excessive police presence plus police violence against protesters, but this time at the Republican Party convention! Here is Chris Coleman, the DP mayor of St. Paul, praising the police violence in that city Below is an excerpt from press coverage by the Minneapolis paper…

‘St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman praised officers for showing restraint and said a small number of law-breaking demonstrators marred what started as a peaceful day of free speech.

“Their efforts were nothing short of heroic,” Coleman said. “They did not fail. They did not take the bait. We’ve done what we could to offer unprecedented access so peoples’ voices could be heard. Unfortunately, very small handful of individuals decided to break the law.”

St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said the trouble makers came from a half-dozen loosely organized groups totaling up to 180 people, representing a small fraction of the massive turnout Monday.’

Yeah sure, Mayor. And just what are these small group of people doing that merits turning out the National Guard in addition to the already massive police presence in your city? What a bunch of crap, and the whole Democratic Party shares responsibilty for this police state atmosphere everywhere today in America.

World will see the same authoritarian circus at Beijing, Denver, and St. Paul

Tara Reid…. Late summer authoritarianism is going full blast now! Nobody seems to be worried about anything in the Big Disconnect Universe. All is the same rosy lock-stock-and-barrel circus of grinning authoritarian clowns, as they talk empty ‘Change’ , Homeland Security, and athletic prowess in uniform military formations. It’s the Brave New World immediately before the world-wide Ecological Apocalypse!

It was China’s turn last week but now it is Klown Colorado LittleTon’s turn to co-host with the Democrats the Grand Show! To be followed of course, with the POW Hero Bomber and Christian Right’s ring of Carnival FunHouse nuts on parade. Oh what a display for the world to watch! Such inanity in such a short period of preCollapse time on display. Pre? Well, let’s not toy with when, where, and how, but it’s Collapse still for sure.

All the slow, slow incremental types are in Rapture but what a false pretend kind of Rapture they are having. Joe Biden is the leader at their head now! No, they do not convince neither here nor there, and the whole world will see the same authoritarian circus everywhere! We look and do not believe how deluded our fellow citizens self-deceive. Vote for the Grand Morass? Or smile and sigh? It’s all Great Big Disconnect.

There sure were a lot of the Thug Force out in squads the first day out. The highlight of the march was when Fox News showed up to bait us, but themselves got run off the field. And everywhere, cops, cops, cops, and more cops. Pigs on horses, pigs in the air, pigs every everywhere! Enough to keep most people away. Nothing but a big silly show.