In related news: Minneapolis hosted the International Society for Animal Genetics conference, held July 21-26, 2000, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The ISAG meeting, which drew more than 600 scientists from around the world to swap ideas about genetic engineering, also attracted 200 demonstrators, mostly from the Twin Cities. Protesters clashed with police on July 24 near Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis. Predictably, the police reacted with violent excess, and arrested of almost half of the protesters.
The level of violence directed at the demonstrators was unusual, even for Minneapolis. The police chief had predicted that 1200 protesters would show up and spent millions of dollars in the effort to silence a few hundred people. They even went so far as to propose randomly screening pedestrians in Downtown Minneapolis, before the ACLU and cooler heads prevailed. And the local media obliged by stirring up as much fear and paranoia as they could generate (a tactic always good for a few extra ratings points).
As a member of the Animal Rights Coalition put it:
"On July 24, the voices that rose in opposition to such research were drowned out by the marching boots of armed police, and many of the protesters, armed only with their signs and their voices, were pepper-sprayed and arrested. It was obvious to even the most casual observer that it was the climate of fear and intimidation created by local law enforcement that resulted in the conflict that erupted in downtown Minneapolis that afternoon. The Animal Rights Coalition has never seen such force used, and in such an unjust manner, to silence voices that were trying to speak for the animals and the planet."
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