An Associated Press photographer and three people from Pacifica’s “Democracy Now!,” including anchor Amy Goodman, were among more than 200 people arrested in St. Paul, MN Monday after a few hundred protesters broke off from an anti-war march by some 10,000 and began smashing windows and clashing with police. Both news organizations are protesting the arrests of their journalists as unwarranted.
Philadelphia-based AP photographer Matt Rourke was released early Tuesday without charges. The other three have also been released, but Democracy Now! Producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar are facing possible felony charges of rioting and Goodman a misdemeanor charge of interfering with a peace officer.
“Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage. Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news,” said David Ake, Assistant Washington Bureau Chief of the AP.
Democracy now charged that both of its producers were injured by police. “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,” the program’s statement said.
“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. Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities’ law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists,” it said.
The rioting by self-proclaimed anarchists in St. Paul on Monday was much more violent than anything that happened at last week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver. One journalist, ABC News producer Asa Eslocker, was arrested in Denver.
RBR/TVBR observation: We haven’t learned the details of the other three arrests, but the video below of Goodman being handcuffed didn’t show much justification for an arrest. It was probably not smart of her to push past one officer to try to ask why the two producers were being detained, but it was only after she was being arrested that one of the cops told the photographer with her, “If you cross this line, you will be arrested.” Also, in the video, Goodman was clearly wearing her convention press credentials until they were pulled off of her by the police.