RNC Arrests • 3 September 2008 • The SnowBlog
I'm a bit of a fan of Democracy Now, a daily news programme from the States. Its host, Amy Goodman, was one of those dragged away by the police outside the Republican National Convention in St Paul this week. You can see a video of it here. She and her colleagues had their press credentials on display, as well as their passes to get into the convention, but they were still arrested. What's a little bit scary about that sort of thing, even beyond the idea that protesting can be treated as a crime, is what happens once you've been arrested, because it's all shades of guilt after that.
If there are violent protesters in a crowd, then the whole crowd is suspect. And if the whole crowd is suspect, then so are the reporters covering the event. And of course, once you're arrested, you're treated like a criminal. And since a lot of criminals are uncooperative, sometimes violently so, there seems nothing wrong with knocking them down, bellowing at them to shut up and tightening their handcuffs if they make a fuss. But of course, when the 'fuss' they're making is to explain that they are accredited press, the bellowing and rough treatment seems positively barbaric. And once they've been arrested, it seems sensible to charge them with something, so Amy Goodman will be charged with Interfering with a Peace Officer, and her colleagues with Probable Cause Riot.
It seems doubtful to me that hers will come to court, given Amy's high profile, the heaps of journalism awards she's received for being good at her job, and the fact that her arrest was caught on video, meaning that over 400,000 YouTube viewers have seen her not interfering with a Peace Officer. Her colleagues' chances are less good, despite it being fairly obvious that a professional reporter carrying a camera is unlikely to be a rioter. But for any ordinary citizens caught up in the arrests, whose only real crime is a desire to protest the wreck the Republican Party has made of America, the prospects are probably a lot worse.
The only lighter moment was that one of the reporters arrested was from the New York Post who apparently protested without success, "But I'm with a Republican newspaper."