Against Type

It’s not often that I find myself defending Saint Paul mayor Chris Coleman. Indeed, I die a little inside at the thought.

But they say you can learn a little about a guy by his enemies.

So here goes; good job, Mayor Coleman.

A group of stalkers followed Coleman to a fundraiser last week:

About 30 demonstrators showed up outside a fundraiser for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on Friday, objecting to what the group saw as an overreaction by police during last week’s protests outside the Republican National Convention.

Carrying signs that read “I Am Ashamed” and “I Survived 9/1,” the group strolled the sidewalk in front of a St. Anthony Park residence where the event was being held, briefly confronting Coleman when he arrived.

Look, I don’t support government overreach; police overreach against legitimate protest is no better than, say, siccing the FCC on conservative talk radio under the guise of the “Fairness” Doctrine.

But look at what Coleman’s administration – which is of a relatively small city, remember – was facing:

  • A movement that pledged to “shut down” Saint Paul and the convention
  • Groups that were threatening to stalk and kidnap delegates and other people.
  • Credible threats of violence and mayhem from groups that have carried it out in the past (see Seattle, 1999).
  • Groups that did, in fact, commit violence against delegates on the first day – sandbag attacks on buses, bleach squirted at delegates and so on.

With that background, caution was hardly misplaced.

So did officers possibly use “excessive caution” on protesters who didn’t obey lawful orders to disperse – macing people excessively and so on?  Possible.

Did the police break up any protests that were legally permitted, and where the protesters were operating within the conditions of the permit?  I’ve been asking counterculture types for the past week, and heard nothing.

The protesters, I suspect, are upset – legitimately at what may have been instances of cops overapplying mace, and illegitimately at the overall approach, which seems not to have had any affect on legal, permitted protests.

And they’re upset because their protests, outside the echo chamber of the perennially-angry far left, had zero affect on the convention, on national policy, on the GOP, and – most galling to them, I suspect – the national press coverage of the convention.  Pissed off kids and ageing hippies throwing things in the streets?  Dog bites dog.  Sarah Palin sweeping all before her?  Pitbull bites lightworker.

The protesters barely qualified as a sideshow.  Unless you were a cop.

Anyway – good job, Mayor Coleman.

Feel free to keep the good will flowing, by the way, by reconsidering your property tax hikes.

12 thoughts on “Against Type

  1. I can’t follow the link (I think it’s broken), but I don’t see what the problem is. Stalking? From your description, it sounds like they, without violence or threat thereof, confronted the mayor at a public event, petitioning for redress of grievances.

    That’s not stalking; that’s free expression.

    I’m not going to repeat myself, much, about the grievances — I haven’t been given reason to believe that both some actions of the authorities and some complaints about the actions of the authorities were over the top — but I don’t see anything at all wrong with that.

    Coleman is in an awkward spot. For the mayor to admit that any actions of his police force were violations of either the law or any of the targets’ civil rights would be to further open the city up for lawsuits. I hope, still, he’ll do the right thing.

  2. That’s not stalking; that’s free expression.

    Of course it is. I agree.

    It’s finding out where the mayor is going to be, out in one of the neighborhoods, and freely expressing themselves.

    It’s free expression, and it’s perfectly legal.

    In my opinion, it is simultaneously perfectly fine and mildly creepy.

  3. Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, of course, but it seems to me that when you’ve got not only a public official, but the strong mayor of the town, making a public appearance to civilly remonstrate with him isn’t creepy at all.

  4. … and, to add on, were some folks on the right side of the political spectrum to show up at an Obama appearance holding signs that say, “What about the Rezko land deal?” I’d find that fine, too.

  5. I wonder if these leftist jerks realize that if they got their wish, ie.: a thin police presence that was ordered to just stand by and watch, there are people out there who might have shown up equipped with baseball bats with their names on them.

    And from the looks of 99% of the scrawny, filthy little malcontents I saw at the Smith St. compound, I’m thinking the RNC welcoming committee would literally have been talking out of the other sides of their faces today.

    The cops keep everyone from each others throats.

  6. I wonder if these leftist jerks realize that if they got their wish, ie.: a thin police presence that was ordered to just stand by and watch, there are people out there who might have shown up equipped with baseball bats with their names on them.

    Might have happened, sure; violent thugs come in just about all political persuasions. Thankfully, loose talk is much more common.

    To the extent that the cops keep bad people from assaulting others while acting within the bounds of law and decency, they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and good for ’em.

  7. Just so’s we’re clear; I’m fine with peaceful protest, even peaceful protest that I find mildly unseemly. And even if I weren’t, the Constitution is.

    I reserve the right to criticize them. That is all.

  8. “To petition the government for redress . . .” Hmm, seems to me I read that line somewhere. It was in a court opinion, something about reasonable time and place restrictions, can’t put my finger on it. I can’t be sure – does that First Amendment right entitle me to climb in the mayor’s bedroom window at 2:00 a.m. to read my list of demands? Can I accost him on his front steps when he picks up his mail? At his neighbor’s bar-b-que? During worship service in his synagogue?

    I suppose First Amendment fetishists would say “Yes” to all of them. Old timers would remember manners and decency, and would drop by his office during business hours. But then, we wouldn’t call a press conference to announce our visit, either.


  9. “Coleman was at a public meeting; it was a fundraiser. I doubt that he does a lot of fundraising in his bedroom at 2AM.”

    There’s probably a John Edwards joke in there somewhere. We should hold a contest.

  10. I’ll cop to this: “Stalker” and “Creepy” are my personal, visceral reactions to seeing a bunch of sixties-retro “protesters” wandering around the neighborhoods and, even moreso, comparing 9/1 to 9/11.

    Entirely appropriate? Certainly not. My personal reaction to what I see as quite a bit of hysteria mixing in with what is a legit protest? Sure.

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