Arrest AP Photographer, Broadcaster At Start Of RNC
Plaudits for the relative restraint of Denver police during last week's Democratic National Convention are not set to be repeated at the RNC, as cops signaled their intent by arresting an AP photographer as well as Democracy Now host Amy Goodman simply for documenting protests in downtown St. Paul.
Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke was arrested on a gross misdemeanor riot charge simply for taking pictures of a protest yesterday.
"Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage," AP assistant chief of bureau in Washington David Ake said. "Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news."
Democracy Now host Amy Goodman was arrested after she complained about the assault and arrest of her colleagues, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar.
According to Democracy Now, "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."
"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."
All three were eventually released but face felony charges. Democracy Now has vowed to fight the false charges which they characterized as an intimidation of independent journalists.
Another AP photographer, Evan Vucci, was body slammed, kicked in the ribs and then handcuffed by police, only avoiding arrest by showing his press credentials.
"The police had pushed the protesters into a parking lot where they had police coming from all sides to encircle one area," Vucci said. "Once they got all the protesters into this one parking lot they kind of rushed and arrested all the protesters in there," said Vucci.
With 50,000 demonstrators expected to protest the RNC, more incidents of this kind can be expected.
On Friday, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office, directed by federal authorities and armed with semi-automatic weapons, raided the headquarters of a protest group and detained and photographed 50 people. Six were arrested on charges of organizing a riot. None of the six have been convicted of a felony or crime of violence and all hold respectable positions within the community.
The raids were carried out after moles were planted in the group by the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force.
The raids were specifically "aided by informants planted in protest groups," notes Salon writer Glenn Greenwald.
"Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force -- an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI -- was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate "vegan groups" and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday," writes Greenwald.
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