Police use tear gas as 10 arrested in clashes

7th Street Protest
Police tear gas protestors in the streets outside the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center September 2, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

Tuesday's demonstrations didn't have the violence that marred the rally on the opening day of the Republican National Convention.

There were only 10 arrests and minimal property damage. But both police and demonstrators brought a new intensity to the streets in downtown St. Paul.

The rally started with speeches and ceremony in Mears Park, where a permitted march by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign drew about 1,000 people. Aztec drummers and dancers offered a ceremonial blessing to the protest.

Black clad police surrounded a detainee as a crowd in Mears Park chanted at them, demanding they release the man on the ground.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

But the rally got off to a slow start. A miscommunication about electrical power in the park pavilion delayed the start of the rally. The crowd got restless waiting more than an hour for the march to start. Some pushing and shoving around a squad of mounted police on Wall Street led to two arrests.

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Unlike Monday's rally, black-clad riot police stepped in immediately. Officers on bicycles, who had handled the much of the security for the opening day of the convention, took a secondary role during Tuesday's protests.

The march eventually left downtown and wound past the county's jail, where some of the protesters from the previous day's demonstrations were being held. Marchers demanded health care, an end to poverty and an end to the war in Iraq.

The situation grew more tense at the Capitol, where the Ripple Effect festival was winding down.

Rage Aginst the Machine
Security forced Rage Against the Machine to shut down an impromptu show at the Minnesota State Capitol. The band continued an a cappella rendition of the song "Bulls on Parade" after their power was cut off.
MPR Video

Two members of the rap-rock band Rage Against the Machine made a brief impromptu appearance.

After the band was denied an official appearance by security forces, the band rushed the stage, grabbed a bullhorn and performed two songs, including "Bulls on Parade." The a capella performance seemed to mollify the crowd, which had protested the concert's abrupt end.

The show, though, ended quickly, and the crowd surged across the Capitol Mall to join the passing march.

The demonstration swelled and grew more militant as it headed downtown toward the Xcel Energy Center, were Republicans were hearing from President George Bush via satellite. Marchers clashed briefly with police at St. Peter Street, then headed for the security perimeter around the Xcel Center.

This woman was one of two people taken into custody at during a confrontation at 4th and Wacouta Streets during the second day of the Republican National Convention.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

The crowd surged up against an 8-foot metal fence and taunted rifle-toting police on the other side. But the marchers eventually withdrew and retreated down 7th Street, back in the direction they came.

Authorities briefly closed down much of downtown St. Paul. A line of riot police, with gas masks on and batons drawn, stopped marchers from entering the central business district where demonstrators had smashed windows and punctured tires the day before.

Tuesday's crowd and police squared off again at St. Peter Street, right in front of the landmark Mickey's Diner. Police with a loudspeaker declared the chanting and defiant crowd an unlawful assembly and told the gathering to disperse.

Nothing happened.

Aztec dancers
Freddy Cortez, right, watched and a girl named Citlalitl looked on as Idalia Robles blew smoke from a ceremonial cup as part of an Aztec dance at Mears Park, before the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign march on the second day of the Republican National Convention.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

After waiting a few minutes, police set off a cloud of tear gas and a series of concussion grenades, scattering the crowd and sending hundreds of people running up St. Peter Street. Several laggards appeared to be struck by bean-bag rounds fired by police.

Helicopters hovered over St. Joseph's Hospital and the north end of downtown for much of the rest of the evening, but by the time Republicans got out of their convention session about 10 p.m., the streets were clear and traffic had returned to normal.

Demonstrations and rallies are scheduled through the end of the Republican National Convention on Thursday.