Well, it looks like the ACLU of Minnesota is about to get some business.
For whatever reason, political conventions lead the po-lice in the host city to act like our democracy has been replaced by a totalitarian system.
In 2000, it was Philadelphia. Pennsylvania State Police infiltrated an activist group, and an activist friend of mine was beaten so badly by the Philly PD during a protest that he ended up with a permanent hip condition.
In 2004, it was New York and Boston. We chronicled the abuse of free speech rights at those conventions in the Freedom Files episode Dissent.
And now it’s Denver and especially St. Paul. Last week in Denver the first checkpoints around the arena where the Democrat party held its convention were two miles away from the arena. Even worse, the Colorado National Guard was on call to deal with protestors. And we all know what can happen when the National Guard deals with protestors.
Perhaps the most egregious abuse of power by the cops has occurred in St. Paul over the last few days. In general, the police have been abusing people for exercising their free speech rights.
Specifically, America is not a country where we arrest journalists. And yet Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, AP photographer Matt Rourke, who is based out of Philadelphia, and several other journalists were arrested for simply covering the protests and the police reaction to them. It’s incredible that I even have to say this, but they were carrying out the right to freedom of the press protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. One of Rourke’s supervisors was none too pleased:
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.”
Here’s the video of police chasing down Salazar. You can hear her screaming, “Press! Press!”
And here’s the video of the arrest of Goodman, who was inquiring about what happened to her producers.
So much for “to serve and protect”. The St. Paul police certainly are not serving or protecting democracy. They’re protecting the thugs who have taken over our government.
Andy in Harrisburg