Center of the violent RNCC protests: U of M

Minnesotans may want to have the legislature investigate this report from the Examiner about University of Minnesota staff involvement in violent anti-Republican protests during the convention in Saint Paul.  According to Ray Robinson, key meetings were held on the U of M’s Twin Cities campus, and involved staff from both the university and union leaders of the AFSCME local that represents them:

University of Minnesota staff were key coordinators of the recent violent protests at the Republican National Convention (RNC). The university employees are also members of the local clerical union of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The AFSCME is part of the AFL-CIO union.

Protests turned violent at the 2008 RNC located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Police have arrested hundreds of demonstrators for violent attacks on police officers and bystanders and other more nuisance crimes. The Saint Paul Police have identified an anarchist group called the RNC Welcoming Committee as being at the center of the violence. …

The website carries a press release which sheds light on the activities of the RNC Welcoming Committee. The online notification posted June 8th, 2007 by a woman named Jessica Sundin calls for a meeting at the University of Minnesota Student Union Center co-hosted by the RNC Welcoming Committee. Sundin is a clerk at the University of Minnesota. Another press release was posted by Sundin in the name of the RNC Welcoming Committee after the convention began.

The Examiner has speeched by both Sundin and AFSCME/AFL-CIO leader Phyllis Walker addressing the groups that comprised the RNC Welcoming Committee.  Sundin in particular appears to have had extensive coordination with anarchists, who turned the protests violent in St. Paul.  Her U of M website has paeans to terrorist groups like FARC and the Islamic Jihad Army, a group in Iraq targeting and killing American troops at the time.  Sundin also commented in a separate interview that she used as a model the anarchist attacks on the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, which were particularly violent.

Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies did a marvelous job in keeping the convention safe while protecting the right to peaceful protest.  None of us inside the River Center ever felt under siege or even particularly inconvenienced, even though we knew that radicals had pledged to disrupt the convention through any means at their disposal.  Police and state troopers from all over Minnesota came to provide security, as well as members of Minnesota’s National Guard, and they deserve our thanks and appreciation for their fine work.

However, they are owed something else as well — a probe into how state resources were used to undermine their work.  If the U of M hosted a conference in which people openly conspired to break the law, then the school has to be held accountable for it.  If Sundin and others used university resources instead of their own time and money to coordinate political action, they should be fired regardless of their connection to anarchist violence.  The legislature should ask for an investigation immediately.

Joe Repya has more on the failure of the RNC Welcoming Committee and the triumph of St. Paul and Minnesota law enforcement — and free speech for all.