Friday, September 05, 2008

Indy Media and Public Demand Charges Against Journalists Swept Up In Mass Arrests

By now the world has heard about and seen images of hundreds of RNC protesters being herded by mounted police, maced, gassed, and otherwise terrorized, thanks to journalists covering the events. Many of these videographers, photojournalists and reporters were also swept up in the dragnet of arrests, some of them with fully-visible press credentials. Some journalists still have charges pending or are awaiting word whether they will be charged with "probable cause felony charges." I believe it has something to do with inciting a riot.

Many people who have attended and/or covered other conventions, including the DNC in Denver last month, said they have never seen anything like the police presence in St. Paul last week. St. Paul was given $10 million from the host committee to pay for law suits brought against the city, a fact the deputy mayor confirmed today, a deal she says they are "proud of." This, I hear, is also a first.

So, while McCain/Palin and shiny, happy "patriots" were inside the Excel Center raising their arms in praise of the American dream, citizens attempting to exercise their first amendment rights were outside being oppressed with patriot dollars.

Today I joined the Twin Cities Media Alliance , FreePress, Democracy Now staff Amy Goodman and her producers , and others in demanding that charges against journalists be dropped. As Amy Goodman so thoughtfully put it (I'm paraphrasing so I don't have to listen to the recording I took over and over again):

This goes beyond us, it goes to the issue, to the core issue of democracy in this country. When you stop journalists from operating, you close the eyes and ears of a democracy. We are here to interview people on the floor of the convention center, in the corporate suites and on the streets, to bring the full perspective, including all voices.

Amy can articulate eloquently without relying on a teleprompter, just so you know.

FreePress member holding photo of photographer getting
sprayed with pepper spray (or something equally toxic and

Sharif Abdel Kaddous, Democracy Now producer, also arrested

This reporter has been covering the conventions and
hasn't gotten much sleep.

One of my heroes, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

I wish I had gotten this guy's name. He was well-spoken, from
a media organization in NY.

Andy Driscoll of KFAI's Truth to Tell, the 50,000 letters
from citizens demanding that charges against journalists
be dropped.

Nancy Doyle Brown of TC Media Alliance delivering the
demand letters to the mayor's office.

The deputy mayor is "proud" they got the RNC Host Committee to
insure St. Paul against law suits brought by wrongfully arrested, abused
and/or tortured citizens and journalists.

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