By Ken Krayeske • 9:36 AM EST
The way the pattern looks now for pre-emptive arrest of protesters, by the time we finish the proceedings in Krayeske v. City of Hartford, federal docket number 07cv0827, I’ll be able to coach more than a few people in how to protect and exercise Constitutionally protected civil rights.
First, I would tell the more than 300 protesters and the dozens of independent journalists in Minneapolis-St. Paul who were arrested this week during the Republican National Convention in Minnesota that protecting civil rights isn't easy.
What happened to all them fit the pattern of what happened to me. There has to be a playbook for it in some federal agency.
Journalists like Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kaddous and Nicole Salazar from Democracy Now! weren’t on lists set up by fusion centers of federal, state and local law enforcement officials when they Minneapolis police busted them for covering protests in downtown St. Paul.
Jurisdiction questions aside at this "National Security Event," plenty more journalists from the Glass Bead Collective and I-Witness Video were on lists. The houses they stayed in were preemptively targeted by fusion centers like the Connecticut Intelligence Center (aka CTIC).
These reporters and videographers were arrested, detained or their equipment was captured and held. Youtube and Democracy Now! have footage of them being arrested, boldly, illegally in broad daylight.
The police state, it seems, has a formula that works, and they have been using it for years. Filing these lawsuits doesn’t seem to hinder the pattern of intimidation and humiliation they use to go after the protesters, which in turns scares the average American straight.
Troll the internet for hints of dissent. Google some key words, like "September Convention Twin Cities Protest," and stumble upon some protester using the web as an platform to prepare to exercise their civil rights.
Then put that person on a list. In Minnesota, the police apparatus even enlisted locals to spy on "radicals," who have been branded anarchists and worse for engaging in the right to protest and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.
When the time comes, police will use the list to crackdown on dissent. Preemptive raids before crimes have even happened? We're not talking terrorists here. We're talking people who oppose the war, or who oppose the policies of the sitting government.
Pretty much what happened to me at Gov. Rell's Inaugural parade, January 3, 2007. My heart goes out to the folks who were taken into custody at gunpoint for speaking truth to power.
I understand that members of the Connecticut delegation were attacked by anarchists wielding watered down bleach solutions, and these "anarchists" allegedly targeted the old and women. I will not condone such actions, yet I wonder how much of it stems from agents provocateur.
If you don't think that the federal government will plant violent actors in a planned non-violent arrest, you haven't read the history of the FBI’s infamous Cointelpro (Counterintelligence Program) from the 1960s. They have done that, and because it was such a successful tactic, they will continue to do it in the future.
Nor do the police seem to care about the difference between violent and non-violent protests, and much like in my case, they are doing little to differentiate between the two.
It's the same playbook for the major party conventions from New York City and Boston in 2004, or Los Angeles and Philadelphia in 2000. Figure out the protestors, preemptively arrest them and toss them in jail to avoid any coverage of potential dissent.
When there is dissent, make sure it is characterized as violent. The cost of lawsuits for illegal, unlawful arrests is just part of the overall convention budget.
New York City just paid out a $2 million award to 52 plaintiffs in a civil rights lawsuit stemming from mass arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention there.
I am certain that Goodman, Kaddous and Salazar will absolutely be filing unjust arrest lawsuits, like mine. I spoke with Goodman briefly Tuesday night, but she didn’t return my call for a full interview about her arrest.
I wish I was further along in the process, so I could coach people on what to do. Basically, right now, in my lawsuit, we have named five defendants – the City of Hartford, Hartford Police Department officer Jeff Antuna, HPD Sgt. Andrew Weaver, Connecticut state police Sergeant Mark Casista and state Detective Pedro Rosado.
We are trying to add one more Hartford police officer. Once that happens, depositions will occur. These folks aren't the easiest to deal with. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office is representing the two state cops.
Everyone deserves good representation, but one wonders at what point the attorneys in the state's service will tell the state to simply settle because they have no case. Before New York City reached that point, the city lawyers deposed more than 200 witnesses.
I hope that doesn't happen to this suit, but I am prepared to fight. Hartford Corporation Counsel's office is throwing the book at me, as is the Attorney General’s office.
For example, the AG filed a motion for security for costs, demanding a $500 payment from me to continue my lawsuit. In doing so, they invoked a rule designed to prevent frivolous, vexatious litigation. My attempt to reclaim my civil rights is neither vexatious nor frivolous, and Blumenthal and his people know it, but they take such legal manuevers merely to bust my chops.
Going into federal court, I understood that I would not walk out either satisfied or happy, and perhaps I might not even reach my goal of determining exactly who was accountable for the gross violations of my civil liberties.
Getting people to admit what they did was wrong and shouldn’t be done again will be difficult. We will start depositions once we join everyone in the lawsuit.
As it stands now, from looking at documents we have received back in discovery, the process to arrest me was complex and likely involved many more officers than we actually named as plaintiffs. Finding out who actually gave the go ahead to bust me or Amy Goodman or any of the other protesters in the Twin Cities will be almost impossible.
The veneer of bureaucracy and the diffusion of responsibility across dozens of law enforcement agencies creates practically impenetrable, opaque walls of lawlessness.
And for a moment last week, wrestling with requests for production and interrogatories, I almost felt seduced by the logic of the police action. Well, they were just protecting the governor. It seems so efficient and precise. But it was and is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Police act illegally before and during inaugurals, conventions, international trade meetings to stop any dissent. When the powerful people – politicians and negotiators - leave and the jails are cleared, justice may eventually win.
But it happens too late to prevent the cops from acting this way in another city. Our rights to speak are crushed, and the judiciary reacts with a maddeningly slow plod. Taxpayers finance the destruction of their Constitution for the arrests, and then shell out again to those who were unjustly imprisoned.
By the time the suits are settled, the public has largely forgotten about what happened. We have to figure out a way to prevent the law enforcement apparatus from acting so purposefully destructive towards our civil society.
To get me through the daily misery that is fighting the Attorney General's office, I dream that if I prevail in my lawsuit and win money for my pain and troubles, I'll host the Free Kenny Festival, a celebration of the U.S. Constitution.
Live music, art and theater all in the name of Free Speech and Due Process, to remind us all of how important the Constitution is, and why we need to go out there and challenge the police who would imprison us for merely breathing.