September 3rd, 2008
11:22 AM ET

The 'fireworks' outside of the convention

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/09/02/rnc.security/art.teargas.jpg caption="Police fire tear gas after some protesters said they would breach a security fence."]

Editor's Note: St. Paul police fired chemical agents and projectiles into a large crowd of protesters outside the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. Witnesses said the protesters marched from the grounds of the state Capitol after a concert there ended abruptly. CNN's Joe Johns was covering the standoff last night when the protest changed directions. We share his observations here:

Joe Johns | BIO
CNN Correspondent

I was about to hit the 'send' button on this, telling you how this was a peaceful standoff when the police set off a some type of tear gas that made your throat burn and eyes water.

It didn't incapacitate me like old fashioned tear gas. Guessing the strong winds made its effects less potent.

Police say they released the gas because they were trying to scatter protesters who they said were trying to get past security fences into the convention's perimeter. Here is what i was about to send before the gas was set off. Amazing to see what a difference a few minutes makes:

Outside the Convention, we have a large march, largely peaceful so far this evening.

Haven't seen any glass broken. The protesters in black with bandanas are here again today, but nothing like yesterday. Lots of chanting on and off. Observers from the national lawyers guild in bright green hats are all over the place.

So here is what I've been able to piece together.

Apparently there was a concert on the Capitol grounds. Brian Noy, a local resident, says he was there. Said someone who was (or looked like) the lead singer from 'Rage Against the Machine' apparently showed up and wanted to play a street set. (Rage is sked to play tomorrow at Target Center maybe in Minneapolis)

Anyway, the plug gets pulled on the public address system (not sure who did it) The Rage guy (or look alike) grabs a megaphone and starts leading a chant... and so starts a (so far) peaceful spontaneous march to the 7th street perimeter.

Police have been in a pretty good mood. So far. I've seen no gas released..
However Doug Schantz our photojournalist whose word u can take to the bank says he has seen pepper-spray released but that's all.

Its been noisy and provocative but peaceful.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Hmmm very interesting there wasn't this type of protesting at the Dem Convention. Is America finally standing up after what's been done to this country after 8 years of misery?

    September 3, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  2. dcgrrl

    Any word on what the protest was against? And I don't recall hearing about protests in Denver. Were there no protests in Denver, or did they just spontaneously pass out due to the altitude?

    September 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm |
  3. Cindy

    Well if these protesters knew that there were boundaries and still tried to breach them then the police had no other resort but to use the tear gas. It's OK to protest but when you start getting out of hand or destroying things then that is ridiculous. You can get your point across much easier by holding a demonstration that doesn't erupt into chaos.


    September 3, 2008 at 11:29 am |