Protester medics arrested by police in minivans

By Ben Westhoff

Things are so crazy in town this week that sometimes news breaks out right in front of you. As I was crossing University at Park around 1 p.m., two minivans pulled up abruptly, and in an instant eight cops jumped out. On foot, they chased after a pair of cyclists, a woman and a man. They had red duct-taped crosses on her clothes, indicating the pair were “medics” aligned with a group called North Star Health Collective; group members have been roaming downtown helping out protesters and others who have been tear-gassed, hurt, or are simply dehydrated. (More on North Star later.)

Through light rain, the cops chased the female bicyclist across the street, took her down, and put her in the back of a squad car. Across the intersection, a handful of bike cops arrived, and the male medic was tackled, cuffed and detained. The police searched his possessions and rifled through his pockets, unearthing ten tons of stuff, including at least one bottle of white vinegar solution (used for washing out someone’s eyes after he or she has been maced). The police eventually took the medics away in squad cars, and one cop told me they would be charged with, at minimum, resisting arrest. He did not say what sparked the initial confrontation.

This video shows the male medic being searched.

This is the other medic.

Protester medics arrested by police in minivans

Here’s an account of the incident from a documentary filmmaker who happened to be crossing the street at the same time. (At this point we both mistakenly thought the female medic was a man.)

Later, I learned the medic pair is known as “Team Dumpster Bike.” They, like other North Star Health Collective medics, travel in pairs, going under aliases like “Team Dumpster Bike” and “Team Garlic,” so they don’t have to tell anyone their real names.

Here is some information about North Star, from their blog

The North Star Health Collective includes health care workers, students and community activists committed to creating a meaningful response to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul September 1-4, 2008. We will coordinate and provide health care services, resources, and training to ensure the safety of our community - the weeks before, during, and after the RNC. Thousands of community members and families are expected to attend protests against the RNC. It is all of our responsibility to make the RNC protests safer for everyone.

We believe in a broad definition of health that includes human dignity and rights for all. We reject the idea that health care should be distributed based on ability to pay.

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