SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

U.S. | Government & Elections | Police State and Prisons

Use of Force Against RNC Protesters “Disproportionate,” Charges Amnesty International
by via Amnesty International
Saturday Sep 6th, 2008 9:52 PM
Police are reported to have fired rubber bullets and used batons, pepper spray, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades on peaceful demonstrators and journalists. Amnesty International has also received unconfirmed reports that some of those arrested during the demonstrations may have been ill-treated while held at Ramsey county jail.
PRESS STATEMENT
For immediate release:
Friday, September 5, 2008
Contact: AIUSA media office
202-544-0200 x302

Use of Force Against RNC Protesters “Disproportionate,” Charges Amnesty International

[London]--Amnesty International is concerned by allegations of excessive use of force and mass arrests by police at demonstrations in St. Paul, Minnesota during the Republican National Convention (RNC) from September 1-4, 2008. The human rights organization is calling on the city and county authorities to ensure that all allegations of ill-treatment and other abuses are impartially investigated, with a review of police tactics and weapons in the policing of demonstrations.

The organization’s concerns arise from media reports, video and photographic images which appear to show police officers deploying unnecessary and disproportionate use of non-lethal weapons on non-violent protestors marching through the streets or congregating outside the arena where the Convention was being held.

Amnesty International urges that an inquiry be carried out promptly, that its findings and recommendations be made public in a timely manner. If the force used is found to have been excessive and to have contravened the principles of necessity and proportionality, then those involved should be disciplined, measures put in place and training given to ensure future policing operations conform to international standards.

Police are reported to have fired rubber bullets and used batons, pepper spray, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades on peaceful demonstrators and journalists. Amnesty International has also received unconfirmed reports that some of those arrested during the demonstrations may have been ill-treated while held at Ramsey county jail.

Amnesty International is also concerned at reports that several journalists who were covering the RNC were arbitrarily arrested while filming and reporting on the demonstrations. They include host of independent news program Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, and two of the program’s producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who were both allegedly subjected to violence during their arrest. A photographer for the Associated Press (AP) and other journalists were also arrested while covering the demonstrations.

Kouddous described his arrest to media, “…two or three police officers tackled me. They threw me violently against a wall. Then they threw me to the ground. I was kicked in the chest several times. A police officer ground his knee into my back…I was also, the entire time, telling them, ‘I’m media. I’m press….,’ but…that didn’t seem to matter at all.”

Amnesty International recognizes the challenges involved in policing large scale demonstrations and that some protestors may have been involved in acts of violence or obstruction. However, some of the police actions appear to have breached United Nations (U.N.) standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials. These stipulate, among other things, that force should be used only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed, and should be designed to minimize damage or injury. Some of the treatment also appears to have contravened U.S. laws and guidelines on the use of force. The U.N. standards also stress that everyone is allowed to participate in lawful and peaceful assemblies, in accordance with the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information, please contact the AIUSA media office at 202-544-0200 x302 or visit our website at http://www.amnestyusa.org.

# # #

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Helen Bressler
Sunday Sep 7th, 2008 10:49 AM
While there were peaceful protestors, there were also many out-ol-control protestors who tried to march without a permit. (And they're complaining??) Delegates were verbally harassed and spat on, and one delegate said the protestors harassing her had "a wild look" in their eyes. I also saw scenes on TV showing clearly inebriated and/or high on drugs protestors ignoring the police. There were also arrests made of a few protestors with mace, nails, shields with screws in them, bucket of feces and urine, and some Molotov cocktails. (Some felony counts.) At least one policewoman on a horse was harassed and a protestor tried to drag her off her horse. This illustrates more than ever that the Democrats have gone over the edge; we didn't see these problems at the Democrat's Convention. Looks like the Republicans are the true peacelovers; not the Democrats.The police did not overreact; they were clearly frustrated by the protestors who were out of control and arrogant. Some protestors are still in jail as they refused to give their names. (I believe that is contempt of court?) The good news is that it is clearly evident which side is more respectful of others and truly wants peace--it is the Republicans. And God bless the police for putting up with those protestors who are clearly mentally unstable.
by gestapo
Sunday Sep 7th, 2008 10:23 PM
Helen, Republican's peace loving, what planet do you live on? Did you see the pre-emptive raids in St Paul? Did you see the cops arresting I-Witness Video before any protest even started? Was the St. Paul PoPo afraid of being video taped? Arresting someone with a container next to a toliet that isn't working and then touting it to be people planning to throw it at the cops, doesn't hold much water, much like a toliet that is broken. I also saw random cops on the news slugging people, macing people, tasering people. Those cops had hatred, vile hatred in their eyes. Who gave those cops a gun and a badge is what I want to know.

You can bomb the world into pieces, but you can't bomb the world into peace! - M Franti