St. Paul residents share RNC experiences with police

"The Police" shirt
A demonstrator wearing a t-shirt for the rock band "The Police" walks by a cadre of police in riot gear at a march for Youth Against War and Racism.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

St. Paul residents and activists lined up Thursday night to share their mostly-negative experiences about their encounters with police during the Republican National Convention in September.

Michael Andregg teaches peace studies at the University of St. Thomas. He worked as a liaison between peace activists and police for a year leading up to the RNC.

Andregg said leaders with the St. Paul police department misled residents about the intense level of the security restrictions in downtown.

He said for a week, St. Paul felt like East Berlin.

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"To this day, I don't know who was really in charge of all these tactics. And that's an issue that I wish you would answer for me, because the ambiance was nothing like community policing. It was more like a federal operation and more hostile to people on the ground like me," Andregg said.

About 35 people attended the public hearing in St. Paul. It was hosted by a seven-member review commission charged with investigating police planning and tactics during the RNC.

The panel has also met privately with police officials and business owners and is also planning to interview journalists and additional law-enforcement groups.

The group hopes to make its findings by mid-December.