Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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September 8, 2008 |
Dear Garrison Keillor,
I am a native of Minnesota, born in Red Wing in 1929. For years I have been proud of my native state as a place of tolerance and fair mindedness, not to mention good sense. That is, until last week and the RNC complete with police state tactics worthy of Pinochet. Amy Goodman, one of the best of the independent journalists arrested and waiting to hear what she was charged with. The repression of the Poor People's March, especially when daylight failed. The unwillingness of public officials to respond to questions, the use of paid informants, the use of major force all of these lead me to wonder, "What has happened to Minnesota?" I hope you are wondering, too and will bring this issue to light on your programs. PHC is more than a source of quiet amusement, it is also a place to ask questions about the state of the State of Minnesota. Of course, Sinclair Lewis was not far from the mark in the '20's. wonder what he'd say today.
In grief for the blot on the name of my good state.
Why are the St Paul Police repeating the performance of the NYPD at the last GOP performance full riot gear, arrests of lawyers and at least one journalist, etc.? I expected better of Minnesota.
I wish you would comment on the outrageous behavior of the St. Paul police during the RNC. I know St. Paul is your home and I'm sure everyone there (including the police) are just as nice as pie any other time and I'm guessing that having all those Republicans running around that week just made everyone in St. Paul nuts. The good citizens of St. Paul started acting nasty and sarcastic and snarling and lost all contact with reality. I don't think there's a vaccine for this.
Numerous listeners have written in similarly asking about what happened here. I live up the hill from the hockey arena where the RNC took place and ventured down there a couple of times and it wasn't a good idea. The police were brusque, to say the least, didn't like people hanging around and were in no mood for small talk. It was pretty intense, even after the President had cancelled his trip here, and what I heard from cops is that security was run by the RNC, the FBI, and Homeland Security, and that it was out of the hands of the locals. A lot of cops were brought in from Ohio, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, plus private security, plus Men In Black who it was hard to tell who they represented. And riot police, who tend to look the same whether in St. Paul or Rangoon. The heavy security was in response to threats of violence from "anarchists," who turned out to be a lot of boys around 18 or so and who, like the security guys, have a thing about dressing up in black. The security certainly changed the event, isolated it from St. Paul and insulated us from the Republicans. It was rough on businesses downtown, like Cossetta's Italian restaurant which put up a big tent in the parking lot (a couple blocks from the convention) and which did much less business than they had hoped. Delegates stayed behind the fences. I suppose there are lessons to be learned here, and maybe some old lessons that we've forgotten. Martin Luther King, Jr., had to figure out how to control rash elements within his own movement so he could conduct non-violent marches. And we are a twitchy, paranoid people. Look at airport security this will probably go on for the rest of our lives removing our shoes in homage to Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, and showing liquids and gels, etc. It's a bow to the god of security. Any anonymous person can pick up a phone and empty a school. A few 18-year-old boys in black can bring out enormous security forces. And when an air of apprehension and hostility is created, the door is opened to many many small invidual acts of cruelty. I am sorry that people exercising their legitimate right to march, to shout, to wave signs, to make speeches, were manhandled and pushed around. It shouldn't have happened. But many people in St. Paul had visions of gangs of toughs running through downtown busting windows and burning cars and they decided that that shouldn't happen either.