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St. Paul Mayor Says Protest Crackdown Necessary

(ST. PAUL) St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman defended police raids and arrests Saturday night as the city prepares for the GOP convention which kicks off Monday. Dozens of people were handcuffed and released in the wake of the raids and at least five people were jailed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The target of the police raids has been a ground called the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group which states on its Web site: "Together we can derail this purely ceremonial show of this repressive system and remake it with our own hands."

Coleman said the raids were conducted to help keep other protestors at the convention safe. "We are making sure that people here to legitimately protest have the right to do that, but people engaging in criminal activity are not going to be able to do that," Coleman said.

The mayor said police seized dangerous items in the raids, including Molotov cocktails, a book called "Recipe for Disaster" and tools aimed at disabling busses. "I think we have done absolutely everything we can to accommodate First Amendment rights. But the weapons recovered as a result of these operations make it very clear that there are people here planning to engage in criminal behavior," Coleman said.