Wednesday, September 03, 2008

St. Paul Police Use 'Chemical Munitions' Against Demonstrations at RNC

Police use 'chemical munitions' at RNC

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 19:38:21

St. Paul police have used tear gas, pepper spray and flash grenades against protestors on the second day of the Republican National Convention.

Several loud bangs heard outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, on Tuesday morning were revealed by security officials to be police setting off 'chemical munitions' to disperse a crowd.

Commander Doug Holtz of the Joint Information Center in St. Paul, a coalition of secret service and law enforcement officials, told ABC that police had used 'distraction devices' which he said included tear gas and 'flashbangs' which produce intense light and a deafening bang.

Police also used pepper spray and made three arrests during a protest of about 2,000 people to highlight poverty and homelessness.

The march, which was organized by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, was shadowed by hundreds of law enforcement officers in riot gear and on horseback.

On Monday, St. Paul police arrested nearly 300 people including AP photographer Matt Rourke and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman along with two of her producers.

Goodman was arrested as she asked police in riot gear about the status of producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Footage of her arrest, seemingly only for inquiring about her colleagues, was the number one viewed Youtube video on Tuesday.

Gena Berglund of the National Lawyers Guild said the police action was 'completely out of proportion'.

September 01, 2008

Update: Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC


September 1, 2008
Contact: Mike Burke

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: .

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.

Video of Amy Goodman’s Arrest:

1 comment:

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