Amy Goodman, other journalists arrested in St. Paul

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Dawn Zuppelli with Rochester IndyMedia told the Daily Planet that she was pepper-sprayed, along with other journalists and protesters, and Amy Goodman and Democracy Now producers were arrested, along with protesters, late Monday afternoon in downtown St. Paul.

For a complete list of articles on the RNC, go to our RNC 2008 page.

Zuppelli had been following a group of about 80 young people who were dancing in the streets in St. Paul, after the conclusion of the legally permitted march this afternoon. The young people, said Zuppelli, would move from place to place, often along Wabasha Avenue, as police moved them. Finally, police and National Guard troops surrounded them and ordered them to disperse. She said police used pepper spray, tear gas, and some kind of canisters that made a loud noise and smoke, as well as “pepper balls,” that contained both pepper spray and a green dye.

Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested at RNC
The following is a release from Democracy Now!

ST. PAUL, MN — Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time.

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfuly 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 Sherrif 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 Amenmdent 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.

She was standing on the sidewalk, Zuppelli said, when police ordered journalists to move back. She said there was no place to go, and then police directly pepper-sprayed her. She was wearing a press badge and did not resist police orders to move, but did continue filming.

The protesters and journalists were taken to a parking lot on Jackson, and then Democracy Now producers were arrested. When Amy Goodman of Democracy Now attempted to get them released, protesting that the arrest of journalists who were in the process of reporting is an unconstitutional violation of free press rights, she was arrested.

Police arrested dozens of protesters at various sites in downtown St. Paul, and closed the Wabasha Bridge and Shepard Road after 5 p .m.

More on this afternoon in downtown St. Paul

Tear gas fired into crowd at Kellogg, MnIndy reporter hit
By Paul Schmelzer, Minnesota Independent
Four blocks of Kellogg Blvd in St. Paul broke into chaos late this afternoon as riot police fired canisters of chemical agents directly into the crowd. MnIndy’s Jeff Severens Guntzel was there and relayed his account of what happened.

St. Paul’s High Bridge closure leaves only one route across the Mississippi
By Paul Schmelzer, Minnesota Independent
With about 45 minutes to go at tonight’s SEIU Labor Day picnic and concert at St. Paul’s Harriet Island, a City of St. Paul sign-crew truck put “Road Closed” signs at both ends of the only remaining open bridge connecting downtown to the island. The worker speculated that the aim was to prevent or delay the concert attenders from returning back to downtown, the site of numerous clashes between protesters and police today.

RNC protest highlights need for new priorities
by Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota
As the Republican National Convention convened Monday in downtown St. Paul, more than 10,000 people took to the streets to protest the Iraq War and demand new priorities for the nation.

Thousands ‘take back Labor Day’ at Harriet Island festival
By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota
Many of the thousands of young people gathered at Harriet Island Monday probably never heard of folk musician Woody Guthrie or labor organizer Joe Hill, but they cheered when musicians Steve Earle and Tom Morello evoked the memories of these labor icons at the “Take Back Labor Day” Festival.

by the numbers: more than 150 jailed on day one
By Paul Demko, Minnesota Independent
As of 8 p.m. this evening, 163 protesters had been processed through the Ramsey County Jail. This includes 73 felony arrests, 42 gross misdemeanors and 48 misdemeanors, according to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. Arraignments will be held beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow.