I-Witness Video’s summary of police abuses in St. Paul at the RNC

September 9, 2008

from Two Good Hands:

The following is an email from Eileen Clancy from the I-Witness Video Collective, offering their summary of the police attacks on protesters and the media at the Republican National Convention.

Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2008 23:20:52 -0400 (EDT) Subject: 2008 Republican National Convention Round-Up From: “I-Witness Video” <iwitness@iwitnessvideo.info>

Hello folks,

Here is an overview of what the members of I-Witness Video saw and experienced over the past week or so in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Regards, Eileen Clancy

for the I-Witness Video Collective

————–

Violence and cruel treatment directed at protesters by police; Journalists targeted for arrest, harassment, intimidation and surveillance

Police Violence in the Streets

The members of I-Witness Video have been appalled to see a high level of violence directed against peaceful demonstrators, medics, legal observers and journalists at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Concussion grenades, smoke bombs, CS gas (tear gas), rubber bullets and pepper spray were used to attack and herd demonstrators.

In particular, pepper spray was used excessively and indiscriminately to torment and punish demonstrators in a manner that violates widely accepted law enforcement standards. In one instance a man was pepper-sprayed while handcuffed and then punched in the kidneys. Peaceful demonstrators have been restrained and forced to kneel on pavement for hours after being pepper sprayed without being given medical attention. In another instance where pepper spray was used to preemptively punish a person who was perceived by police to be a protester, a lone street medic was entering her car when police drove up, sprayed a small fire extinguisher sized canister of pepper spray into her car, completely soaking her head to toe before driving away, leaving her gasping for air and collapsing. The medic was neither arrested nor charged.

Here is a clip showing police use of pepper spray. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2008/09/05/protester.roughed.up.cnn?iref=videosearch

Abuses in the Jails

The treatment of arrestees in the jails has been shockingly bad, even grisly. Medical care has been withheld from many arrestees. In one instance a hemophiliac was offered gauze as treatment for a wound. Elliot Hughes, a 19-year old arrested while bicycling, was forced to wear a bag over his head while being gagged and beaten. Hughes tells his story at a press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_h0ACIblaQ

(full clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PWy-rCM_SQ)

The punishment of arrestees did not end at the jailhouse door. In almost every instance, the Sheriff’s Department did not return any personal belongings to arrestees upon their release. Many, including under-age women and girls, were put out in the cold in the middle of the night wearing thin prison-grade shorts and a white t-shirt. Some were dropped off as far as five miles away from the jail without their house keys, car keys, cell phones, identification, or money. In some instances this meant that they were not able to access critically needed medication.

Targeting of Journalists

Many journalists working during the period of the RNC experienced obstruction, harassment and arrests. Thirty journalists were arrested including reporters from ABC News, Fox News, and Indymedia. On September 1, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, two producers from Democracy Now! were slammed on the pavement and against the wall, arrested and charged with a felony riot. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was also arrested and charged with interfering with a police officer. On September 4 Kouddous was arrested again, along with Democracy Now! producer Rick Rowley.

Harassment of I-Witness Video

Members of I-Witness Video were visited by the FBI and a Wisconsin sheriff, were falsely arrested without charges being filed, underwent a search under an invalid warrant, were threatened on the street by police officers, extensively surveiled by police officers with video cameras and followed by undercover officers.

Two days before the convention opened, St. Paul police surrounded the house we were staying in, effectively placing us under arrest for two hours. When a search warrant was finally produced, it was for the wrong house.

When we declined to allow them to search our house under an invalid warrant, they broke in and held us at gunpoint. We were handcuffed behind our backs and held in the backyard while the house and our belongings were searched.

During the same period three other member of the collective were detained while leaving the area on bicycles and two others in a car were pulled over and detained for four hours.

An excerpt of a video by the Glass Bead Collective shows the St. Paul police breaking into our house and pointing guns at us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5zPnUswIww

In a sinister progression of events, police officers arrived at our office building four days later with batons at the ready, carrying a battering ram and alleging that we were holding people hostage in the I-Witness Video office. A prompt response by National Lawyer’s Guild attorneys thwarted further police action. The unfounded and absurd allegation by police that hostages were barricaded in our office could have allowed them to enter our office without a warrant and possibly even shoot us.

Please check our website for updates – we will continue to let you know more about the 2008 RNC and DNC as we investigate further. # # #


Reporters Committee decries citations given to journalists at RNC protest

September 6, 2008

PRESS RELEASE · September 5, 2008 ·

Reporters Committee decries citations given to journalists at RNC protest

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today asked Ramsey County Sheriff Robert Fletcher and St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington to drop the criminal citations given last evening to up to 20 journalists who were covering a demonstration at the Republican National Convention.

The reporters and photographers had followed demonstrators who were marching from the state Capitol area into downtown St. Paul. Law enforcement officers flanked the marchers and corralled them on bridges passing over Interstate 94. Journalists and marchers were detained on the bridges while police processed them.

Volunteer lawyers for the Reporters Committee’s convention hotline and several Twin Cities area editors and news directors appeared to have negotiated the release of the reporters with commanders on the scene but Fletcher and Harrington apparently intervened, they said, and ordered that the journalists be issued criminal citations. Once ticketed, the journalists were released.

“What conceivable purpose is achieved by citing (the journalists) them with criminal charges?” the letter from Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish asks. “Once you knew they were journalists, why did you have to engage silly bureaucratic nonsense?”

The Reporters Committee has sponsored a legal hotline for journalists at every political convention since 1972.

Read the letter here:

http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20080905-protestlet.pdf


Journalists and Fox employee arrested at RNC

September 5, 2008

from Pegasus News:

While covering a protest in St. Paul, MN outside the site of the Republican National Convention, MYFOXDFW/FOX 4 News correspondent Alice Kalthoff was herded onto a bridge by police (along with several other journalists and about 200 protesters) and then cuffed and questioned.

Presumably satisfied that she was not a dangerous felon, Ms. Kalthoff was released without being charged – although one of her colleagues, John P. Wise, was charged with unlawful assembly.

posted by JM


Portland Indymedia Webradio Back On Air for Day 4 RNC coverage

September 5, 2008

Tune in now for RNC protest coverage and maybe some music when they need a break
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/static/pdxradio.shtml


Cops are targeting journalists for arrest

September 4, 2008

from Free Press:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: September 2, 2008
Contact: Craig Aaron, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x25

WASHINGTON — Today Free Press, the national, nonpartisan media reform group, called on St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and local law enforcement officials to drop all charges against all journalists arrested while covering protests outside the Republican National Convention. Those arrested Monday include Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and two producers from her show, as well as a photographer from the Associated Press. Other independent journalists have been pepper-sprayed and even held at gunpoint during “pre-emptive” raids aimed at disrupting protesters. This follows the arrest of an ABC News producer at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, made the following statement:

“We condemn the arrest and harassment of journalists before and during the Republican National Convention. We call on the mayor, district attorney and police chief to rein in the overly aggressive — and even violent — tactics of law enforcement. Arresting and detaining journalists for doing their jobs is a gross violation of free speech and freedom of the press. We call for the immediate release of any journalists being held in the Twin Cities and for all charges to be dropped immediately. Reporting by independent journalists is the only way for the American public to learn the full story, and they must be free to do their jobs without intimidation.”

more here


Listen to RNC resistence radio!

September 2, 2008

Listen to RNC resistance radio on the following URL’s for live updates from the streets!
http://radio.indybay.org:8000/rnc.mp3.m3u — mostly talk
http://radio.indybay.org:8000/rnc2008.m3u — music, updates from cold snap legal and the tincan comms collective.


Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested At the

September 2, 2008

from Democracy Now!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
http://www.democracynow.org

September 1, 2008

Contact:
Denis Moynihan 917-549-5000
Mike Burke 646-552-5107, mike@democracynow.org

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 unlawfully 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 Sheriff 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 Amendment 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.

Video of Amy Goodman’s Arrest:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYjyvkR0bGQ