Dozens of journalists arrested while covering RNC

New York, September 5, 2008–Dozens of journalists were arrested while covering demonstrations on the third day of the Republican National Convention. They included two Associated Press reporters who, along with other members of the media, were documenting a few hundred protesters trapped by police on both sides of bridge over an interstate highway. The protesters were also arrested.

About two dozen journalists were detained on the Marion Street bridge and issued citations for Unlawful Assembly, according to St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington as quoted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said St. Paul police had decided to cite arrested members of the press but not jail them, according to AP. The cited journalists included AP reporters Amy Forliti and John Krawczynski, who were later released. Many among the more than 500 protestors who were arrested at different locations in St. Paul during the day were issued citations and then sent to jail, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

On Monday, at least four journalists, including an AP photographer and three journalists from the nationally syndicated radio and television news program Democracy Now!, were arrested and released. Only one journalist arrested Monday, Democracy Now! news host Amy Goodman is still facing charges, according to Ramsey County Attorney’s Office spokesman Jack Rhodes. Goodman was cited with a misdemeanor offense for alleged Obstruction.

Police Chief Harrington, who had earlier in the week defended his officers’ arrests of journalists, again defended his department’s policy to arrest working journalists. “We recognize that media folks…are there doing the job,” said Harrington, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But, he went on, “the media isn’t exempt from [a] legal order and have to move [when so ordered by police].”

Riot police blocking both sides of the bridge over Interstate 94 ordered a group of about 200 protestors and many journalists “to sit on the pavement…and to keep their hands over their heads as they were led away two at a time,” reported AP.