Biotechnology protestors fight police in Minnesota
Forwarded By Fightback! Waikato
Biotechnology protestors fight police hand to hand on streets of Minnesota
Police, Protesters Clash In Minneapolis (The Spirit of Seattle spreads to the MidWest)
MINNEAPOLIS, Updated 8:48 a.m. CDT July 25, 2000 -- Protests against an animal genetic engineering convention in Minneapolis turned violent Monday afternoon as demonstrators and police clashed, WCCO-TV reported.
Armed with batons and pepper spray and dressed in riot gear, police attempted to control almost 200 activists at the intersection of 15th Street and Spruce Avenue and at 14th and Willow Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson said that 80 demonstrators were eventually arrested after an hour-long confrontation.
WCCO-TV reported that protesters rushed the police in order to escape attempts to block them in at Loring Park and prevent them from marching to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where the conference is being held. Several marchers broke through a police line near Willow Avenue and 14th Street, and a scuffle ensued.
Riot police moved in quickly and tried to push the protesters back.
"I was trying to get the issue of the conference out and a few people in the group decided that they were gonna rush the line of cops," an unidentified protester said. "I don't understand why people decided to follow them."
Some officers used rubber bean-bag projectiles to subdue the protests and police reported that some demonstrators hurled rocks.
After surrounding some protesters on 12th Street between Nicollet and LaSalle, police began to make arrests. With each arrest, they tightened the circle around the demonstrators. At least 50 protesters were arrested at that location. Those arrested were searched and lead to Metro Transit buses to be taken to jail.
Olson said that police gave demonstrators several opportunities not to be arrested, and they tried to be gentle. He said that no one who was arrested reported any injuries. However, some protesters said that officers were too violent, WCCO-TV reported.
Most of those arrested face charges of unlawful assembly, while at least one has been charged with assault on a police horse. Most of those arrested are from Minnesota and about two-thirds are men, WCCO-TV reported.
Police outnumbered the protesters by about four to one.
Afterward, Olson said that he was pleased with how officers handled the situation. "After what I saw last night and what I saw today, I am very thankful that we had the level of police officers working today that we had. If we hadn't, this could have gotten even farther out of hand," Olson said. "I had hoped that things would have been peaceful today, we could have ratcheted down… that didn't happen."
Residents who lived in the area where police and protesters clashed had mixed reactions to the confrontation. Many were forced to get around streets that were blocked.
"The protesters have a very good point and a very good right to be here, but they don't have a right to be belligerent to police officers, which I've seen today," downtown resident Liz Neerland said. "I don't think the protesters were violent, I don't think the police were violent," resident Dale Benson said.
In related news, police also found suspicious canisters in three areas around Minneapolis, one of which contained cyanide and resulted in the evacuation of a McDonald's. (Related Story)
The protesters had gathered against the work being done at the International Society for Animal Genetics conference at the Minneapolis Hyatt Regency.
They had asked interested parties to gather at Peavey Plaza at 11 a.m.
The protesters were denied a permit to march downtown.
The five-day conference of approximately 600 international scientists and researchers is being held to discuss animal genetics andresearch. It is being sponsored by the University of Minnesota and will run through Wednesday.