Goodman has been charged with "obstruction" and released. Her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, have also been released with pending felony riot charges.
By SCOTT BAUER Associated Press Writer
Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke and Democracy Now! TV and radio show host Amy Goodman were among those arrested Monday at an anti-war march coinciding with the first day of the Republican National Convention.
Rourke was swept up as police moved in on a group of protesters in downtown St. Paul, the scene of scattered violence and vandalism by protesters, some of whom described themselves as anarchists.
Goodman was arrested as she tried to prevent two colleagues from being arrested, a producer for her show said.
David Ake, an AP assistant chief of bureau in Washington, said he was concerned by the arrest of Rourke, a Philadelphia-based photographer.
"Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage," Ake said. "Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news."
Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties, Democracy Now! said in a statement. Ramsey County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Holli Drinkwine said Goodman was arrested on a misdemeanor but she didn't know the charge. She did not immediately have any information about the other three.
Police said late Monday they had arrested 163 people at the march, with more expected. Most of the estimated 10,000 people in the march were peaceful, but small groups totaling about 200 broke windows, taunted police, slashed tires and harassed delegates.
Rourke took photos throughout the day showing police shooting tear gas at protesters. Evan Vucci, another AP photographer, was with Rourke but did not see him get arrested.
"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."
Vucci said he was picked up from behind, thrown down, and kicked in the ribs by police before being handcuffed. He said he avoided being arrested after showing an officer his press credentials.
"I don't think the police officers were targeting journalists," Vucci said. "The group they were going after was a pretty aggressive group, and I think they'd had enough of them. ... I think the cops were amped up."
A video of Goodman's arrest posted on YouTube shows her begging police not to arrest her before being taken away in handcuffs.
Democracy Now! said they were told that by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting. Elizabeth Press, also with Democracy Now!, was among independent reporters staying in a house who were detained and released by police during a raid on Saturday.
Democracy Now! said the arrests were a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of those arrested. The syndicated show airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the world, it said in its release.
PRESS RELEASE FROM DEMOCRACY NOW!:
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC
Goodman Charged with Obstruction; Felony Riot Charges Pending Against Kouddous and Salazar
ST. PAUL--Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.
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.
On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on: www.democracynow.org
Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who 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 arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a “peace officer.”
Democracy Now! forcefully rejects all of these charges as false and an attempt at intimidation of these journalists. We demand that the charges be immediately and completely dropped.
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 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.
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 and the subsequent criminal charges and threat of charges are a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists.
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.