"Conducting mass arrests and raiding meeting places of innocent Americans exercising their constitutional right to express political dissent are antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy,"
"This is sending the wrong message. Regardless of how you feel about these people...they had a right to be there."
Three UK journalists arrested at RNC for alleged rioting
By James R. Carroll and Lesley Stedman Weidenbener • The Courier-Journal • September 3, 2008
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Three people connected with the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper were arrested Monday on charges of rioting outside the Republican National Convention.
Those arrested were UK senior Edward Matthews and sophomore Britney McIntosh, both journalism students and photographers for the Kentucky Kernel, and James Winn, a photo advisor for the newspaper.
The three spent Monday night and all day yesterday in the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul, according to a spokeswoman for the Ramsey County, Minn., Sheriff’s Department. She was a volunteer and asked that her name not be used.
Matthews and McIntosh were awaiting formal charges of felony rioting, while Winn was awaiting formal charges for rioting, the spokeswoman said. If formal charges are not filed by noon today, the three would be released, she said.
Kernel Editor-in-chief Brad Luttrell said the photographers were not on assignment for the newspaper. However, he said they intended to go to St. Paul to document the protests.
“I’m very sure none of the three crossed any lines,” he said. “They’re some of the most ethical people we have.”
Luttrell said that’s why he was surprised to get a call about the arrests today.
“We knew the police would be out in force,” he said. “We talked about how to be careful. We know photographers can get arrested.”
The photographers had press passes visible and emergency numbers written on their arms in case they were arrested, Luttrell said.
Winn, the photo advisor, is a former photographer for The Courier-Journal.
Carla Winn said she and her husband were attempting to shoot pictures of a clash between police in riot gear and protesters who were disrupting traffic and breaking windows.
“We came around the corner and there was a rush of people,” she said.
Winn said her husband and the students got rounded up in a group of protesters and journalists that were being arrested by police.
“They didn’t really care if you were media or not,” she said. “He was shooting pictures the whole time. It was obvious he wasn’t a protester.”
She said the last time she had spoken with her husband he had not been told what the charges against him were.
Carla Winn said her husband and the students were being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
A call late last night to the ACLU’s office in St. Paul was not immediately returned.
Reporter James R. Carroll can be reached at (202) 906-8141. Reporter Lesley Stedman Weidenbener can be reached at (317) 444-2780.
ACLU condemns mass arrests of RNC demonstrators
September 2, 2008
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for investigation into charges of mass arrests and police brutality as the Republican National Convention goes on.
"Conducting mass arrests and raiding meeting places of innocent Americans exercising their constitutional right to express political dissent are antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.
In the run-up to the convention, the ACLU of Minnesota filed five lawsuits aiming to protect free speech and due process rights for convention attendees and demonstrators this week. Pre-convention home raids conducted in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area over the weekend included the headquarters of anarchist organization RNC Welcoming Committee and a "hippie house" inhabited by members of Food Not Bombs. Dozens were detained and six arrested.
Reports of mass arrests continue. On Tuesday, at least three people were arrested during a march of nearly a thousand organized by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. This follows numerous Monday occurrences, which include the arrest of an Associated Press photographer and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, along with 139 felony charges issued among nearly 300 demonstrators, whose arrests were made with such chemical aids as pepper spray and tear gas.
"Free speech has to be safeguarded during the Republican National Convention, as the workings of our democracy in the streets are as important as those in convention halls," Romero added. "Allegations of police misconduct must be investigated thoroughly and free speech must be safeguarded for the remainder of the convention."
Police raid RNC protest sites in Twin Cities
By Abby Simons, Heron Marquez Estrada and Bill McAuliffe, Star Tribune
August 30, 2008 - 6:26 PM
Ramsey County authorities conducted raids across Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday and Saturday as a pre-emptive strike against disruptive protests of the Republican National Convention.
Five people were arrested and more than 100 were handcuffed, questioned and released by scores of deputies and police officers, according to police and elected officials familiar with the raids.
In a statement Saturday morning, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul raid targeted the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group he described as "a criminal enterprise made up of 35 self-described anarchists...intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention."
"These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers," Fletcher said. Deputies seized a variety of items that they believed were tools of civil disobedience: a gas mask, bolt cutters, axes, slingshots, homemade "caltrops" for disabling buses, even buckets of urine.
But the raids drew immediate condemnation from activists and St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune, whose district includes the former theater at 627 Smith Avenue South, which was rented by activists as a gathering space.
"This is not the way to start things off," Thune said Saturday morning. "This is sending the wrong message. Regardless of how you feel about these people...they had a right to be there."
On Saturday afternoon, law agents surrounded 951 Iglehart Av. in St. Paul where members of I-Witness Video, a New York-based group that monitors police conduct during protests, were staying. They were detained and handcuffed but eventually freed without charges.
At a news conference Saturday, Cheri Honkala of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, one of the protest groups, described the Friday raid and an earlier one Thursday that evicted a demonstrators' camp on Harriet Island as "terrorism" intended to divert attention from issues the protest groups are raising and cast the news as police versus protestors.
Thune was especially critical of Fletcher for taking action within St. Paul city limits.
"I'm really ticked off...the city is perfectly capable of taking care of things," Thune said. "If they had found anything that could have been used to commit a crime they would have arrested somebody."