RNC/ DNC arrests

2 09 2008

It was not a good first day for journalists at the RNC, and hopefully not a taste of the week to come.

There were many arrests at the Republican National Convention during protests yesterday, but the ones that concern me are the arrests of two photographers, Matthew Rourke of the AP and another photographer, a freelancer whose arrest has not been widely reported.

Rourke has been released as has Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now who was arrested when she inquired about the arrest of two of her producers and asked to speak to a supervisor.

Here is the AP story.

These charges must be dropped, obviously. But more importantly, the police need to be more careful.

If police can’t tell the difference between a violent protester/rioter, and a journalist who is covering breaking news, they need to be re-trained. If there was violence or vandalism, those guilty of it should absolutely be arrested. But arrests of clearly identifiable journalists who are not participating in the activity, but documenting it, is unconstitutional and absurd in this country.

How clear was it that Rourke was a journalist, you might ask? Well, considering the fact that he was loaded down with camera gear, which he passed off to a colleague before he was take in, as shown here in these photos on the RCFP website I would think it would be obvious.

To be fair there was also an outrageous arrest during the DNC of an ABC reporter who was on the sidewalk in front of a hotel. He was working on a story about lobbyists and VIP donors, on a public sidewalk when a cop pushed him into traffic, then arrested him. The video is almost unbelievable.

If you are at the RNC, please see my post below about important information in case of arrest.

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