Monday, September 1, 2008

Democracy Now! host Goodman arrested at RNC (Updated x2)

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but the prima facie evidence is that Democracy Now host Amy Goodman was arrested by St. Paul police while reporting on the protests at the Republican National Convention. The details are unclear, but it appears that Goodman was attempting to secure the release of two producers, Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous. They are being held on suspicion of rioting.

If the details from DN! are accurate, this is a clear violation of freedom of the press. It is particularly troubling because DN! is a leader among the new media. Goodman and her staff are notable for their hour-long broadcasts on issues that the traditional media tend to gloss over. Incidentally, the CNNs and MSNBCs of the world make no mention on their websites, but the news of the pregnancy (and pending shotgun nuptials) of Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter are featured prominently.

Update: The Washington Post, and the Associated Press have filed stories. As of this writing at 10:10 p.m. Eastern Time, the Dickinson Press in North Dakota had posted the story on line.

This is not the first time that DN! has run afoul of the local constabulary in the Twin Cities during the RNC. While reporting from the RNC Welcoming Committee's convergence space, Elizabeth Press was caught up in a preemptive police raid over the weekend. Here's her report. She claims that a lot of the activists are having run-ins with police even though they had not (at least yet) committed any crime or engaged in violence.

Important note about the RNC Welcoming Committee: They are a self-described group of anarchists and anti-authoritarians. As such, the local law enforcement would have a very good reason to keep an eye on these people.

Protests are certainly an important part of the American political process and I will generally support the right to peaceably assemble. The key word is peaceably, though. The people who damage property are not only rightly subject to arrest and detention, but are also hurting their own cause by casting the entire movement in a bad light. Protest the GOP, but be respectful about it. That will be much more effective than torching the city.

On the other hand, it does seem like the police in Minnesota showing an inordinate amount of zeal in carrying out their duties. Innovations like cheap video cameras and YouTube will be key to keeping an eye on the conduct of law enforcement.

Here's a great collection of photos from Monday's protests from the Star Tribune in the Twin Cities. Yes, the traditional media are doing their bit and deserve a bit of recognition.

This should be a wake-up call to the GOP. The DNC protests were sparse and mainly consisted of die-hard Clinton supporters. These protesters absolutely loathe the Republican Party and their policies. Maybe it really is time for a real change, ladies and gentlemen. The kids (read: the future) are willing to get pepper sprayed and arrested for it.

As for Ms. Goodman, there is not much more information about this incident. Hopefully more details will emerge tomorrow.

Update: The Post reported that Goodman, who was displaying her press credentials was charged and released, but the producers could be held for 36 hours. Hopefully, DN! will continue to cover the protests. Tomorrow's edition will be interesting.


Update: All three were released, but the producers are looking at felony rioting charges. Here's hoping they encounter a judge who understands First Amendment rights.

h/t to Daily Kos diarist smartinez and Alternet for picking up the story.

No comments: