Use of Force Against RNC Protesters “Disproportionate,” Charges Amnesty International

September 9, 2008

from Amnesty International:

PRESS STATEMENT
For immediate release:
Friday, September 5, 2008
Contact: AIUSA media office
202-544-0200 x302

Use of Force Against RNC Protesters “Disproportionate,” Charges Amnesty International

[London]–Amnesty International is concerned by allegations of excessive use of force and mass arrests by police at demonstrations in St. Paul, Minnesota during the Republican National Convention (RNC) from September 1-4, 2008. The human rights organization is calling on the city and county authorities to ensure that all allegations of ill-treatment and other abuses are impartially investigated, with a review of police tactics and weapons in the policing of demonstrations.

The organization’s concerns arise from media reports, video and photographic images which appear to show police officers deploying unnecessary and disproportionate use of non-lethal weapons on non-violent protestors marching through the streets or congregating outside the arena where the Convention was being held.

Amnesty International urges that an inquiry be carried out promptly, that its findings and recommendations be made public in a timely manner. If the force used is found to have been excessive and to have contravened the principles of necessity and proportionality, then those involved should be disciplined, measures put in place and training given to ensure future policing operations conform to international standards.

Police are reported to have fired rubber bullets and used batons, pepper spray, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades on peaceful demonstrators and journalists. Amnesty International has also received unconfirmed reports that some of those arrested during the demonstrations may have been ill-treated while held at Ramsey county jail.

Amnesty International is also concerned at reports that several journalists who were covering the RNC were arbitrarily arrested while filming and reporting on the demonstrations. They include host of independent news program Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, and two of the program’s producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who were both allegedly subjected to violence during their arrest. A photographer for the Associated Press (AP) and other journalists were also arrested while covering the demonstrations.

Kouddous described his arrest to media, “…two or three police officers tackled me. They threw me violently against a wall. Then they threw me to the ground. I was kicked in the chest several times. A police officer ground his knee into my back…I was also, the entire time, telling them, ‘I’m media. I’m press….,’ but…that didn’t seem to matter at all.”

Amnesty International recognizes the challenges involved in policing large scale demonstrations and that some protestors may have been involved in acts of violence or obstruction. However, some of the police actions appear to have breached United Nations (U.N.) standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials. These stipulate, among other things, that force should be used only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed, and should be designed to minimize damage or injury. Some of the treatment also appears to have contravened U.S. laws and guidelines on the use of force. The U.N. standards also stress that everyone is allowed to participate in lawful and peaceful assemblies, in accordance with the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information, please contact the AIUSA media office at 202-544-0200 x302 or visit our website at http://www.amnestyusa.org.

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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


Arrestee Updates!

August 31, 2008

from Coldsnap legal collective:

All six arrestees are still being held at Ramsey County Jail on probable cause, which means that they might not be able to see a judge until Tuesday or Wednesday. Four of the arrestees have been able to call our hotline and are fine, but two of the arrestees have been separated from the others in jail.

Want to show your support and solidarity? Call the jail at 651.266.9350 and demand their release! Let’s get them out of there!


Support pre-RNC arrestees in the Twin Cities

August 31, 2008

from Infoshop:

Police StateCurrently in the Twin Cities, there have been 4 house raids, a raid on the RNC convergence space, and several vehicle raids. Six preemptive arrests have been made.

All six arrestees are still being held at Ramsey County Jail on probable cause, which means that they might not be able to see a judge until Tuesday or Wednesday. Four of the arrestees have been able to call Coldsnap Legal Collective’s jail support hotline and are fine, but two of the arrestees have been separated from the others in jail.

Want to show your support and solidarity? Call the jail at 651.266.9350 and demand their release! Let’s get them out of there!

For updates, follow http://twitter.com/coldsnaplegal

http://coldsnaplegal.org
Jail Support Hotline: 651.356.8635