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Amy Goodman Manhandled, Arrested for Protesting Arrest of News Staff

by juan cole (reposted)
From a Tuesday, September 2, 2008 entry on Informed Comment, Juan Cole's blog

Amy Goodman Manhandled, Arrested for Protesting Arrest of News Staff

Thousands of protesters rallied against the Iraq War at the Republican Convention on Monday.

The thousands of protesters were almost all peaceful. I had US cable news on all day off and on, and never saw anything on it about the protests. Some teenager was pregnant, which is not their business or mine, but that was what they were talking about. Protesting the Republican Party's warmongering and lethal corruption for the past 8 years-- a record that has made it impolitick for George W. Bush to attend the conference of the party he still technically leads-- now that was unworthy of public comment.

A few at the rally were accused of breaking windows or throwing bottles at the police. 284 arrests were made.

The press accounts suggest that in some instances police acted overly aggressively (i.e. unconstitutionally), moving in on protesters who were peaceful.

Over the weekend, police seized printed materials and protest plans from some of the organizers and arrested a handful, charging them with conspiracy to commit civil disorder. Gee, you could have arrested Martin Luther King every day of the week on that charge.

That something was very wrong with at least some of the police response in Minneapolis is demonstrated by the arrest and manhandling of Amy Goodman and two of her staff members. They were there as press. They were not throwing anything. I know them, and have been on the show numerous times. They are honest, committed people, and if they say they were wrongly treated, they were.

Over the weekend, Democracy Now! reporter Elizabeth Press had been arrested, apparently for planning to film police response to the protests.

Among those arrested was Amy Goodman (video below), who was later released.

This site gives Amy's side of the story:

' ST. PAUL -- Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar's violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, "I'm Press! Press!," resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman's arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on:

Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a "peace officer."

Democracy Now! forcefully rejects all of these charges as false and an attempt at intimidation of these journalists. We demand that the charges be immediately and completely dropped.'

Ever since Bush and his gang came to power, there has been a concerted attempt to destroy the First Amendment right to peaceful assembly.

New York City recently settled with antiwar protesters illegally arrested in spring of 2003, paying $2 million. Those protesters, remember, had been trying to avert the catastrophe that was the Iraq War, or at least not have it go without public expression of dissent.

Ironically, Democracy Now! is among the few news programs that tries to deliver real news to the American public, not the babysitting pap that passes for such so often in the corporate media. Of course, in our Bushwellian State, its staff would have to be arrested for committing News.

Hang in there, Amy.

posted by Juan Cole @ 9/02/2008 01:03:00 AM

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