Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Call to Free Amy Goodman (Updated)

Respected journalist Amy Goodman has been arrested. Here's the video:

As you can see, she's an extremely intimidating physical presence, and obviously a clear and present danger to all in the vicinity, most of all the multiple cops in riot gear. Given that peaceful activists targeted in earlier house raids were called "anarchists" by the police, and too many in the press has repeated that uncritically, I wonder how this incident will be reported. Let's work to make sure it's reported accurately, as the abuse of power it is.

Here's the press release, emphasis added:

September 1, 2008
Dennis Moynihan
Mike Burke

ST. PAUL, MN—Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her. Video of her arrest can be seen here:


Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfuly detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar 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 Sherrif Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman’s office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

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 Amenmdent rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism’s top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation’s leading independent news outlet.

Democracy Now! is a nationally-syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Personally, I'm really, really sick of this shit. The raids in the Twin Cities are even worse than some of the police abuses in Denver. Not all cops are like this, of course, but this is entirely too commonplace. It defies belief that these cops don't know that they, officers of the law, are breaking the law. I want to see some people fired over this. I want to see it spelled out loudly and plainly that what all these people harassed and arrested were doing, peaceful activism in public places, was legal and protected under fundamental rights of the Constitution. I don't want to see this crap every again. I don't have much hope of that, but one key step to stopping it in the long term is stopping it now, and making sure those that have abused power pay a price for it.

Update: Via Cernig at C&L, Democracy Now reports that Amy Goodman, and now her producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, have all been released, although all were mistreated. Democracy Now will be airing more footage tomorrow. Meanwhile, tear gas was also used on protestors:

Democracy Now also reports:

During the demonstration in which the Democracy Now! team was arrested, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists. Several dozen demonstrators were also arrested during this action, including a photographer for the Associated Press.

Cernig writes:

Democracy Now! is standing by the three and calling what happened today “a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists” and “a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.”

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

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