Sunday, September 07, 2008

The RNC Protests: Amy Goodman Interview

The police action against protesters at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul -- including the arrests of members of media, among them Democracy Now's Amy Goodman -- was chilling and got very little coverage, though we saw hundreds of arrests and the use of tear gas. I interviewed Amy Goodman (the interview, which we played on the show, is posted below) the day after she and others on her staff, as well as members of the Associated Press, were arrested, on the night that nearly 300 people were taken into custody. The next night we saw the use of tear gas, and don't forget, this all began before the convention, when several protesters' homes were raided.

Police shut down free speech zones, arrested people who were doing nothing but exercising their rights, and rounded up or silenced media, a tactic that allows them to basically be watchdog-free. This ABC News report shows some of the tactics police used:

Police in riot gear swarmed the area outside the convention center, deploying tear gas and distraction devices known as "flash bangs" in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

Approximately three-hundred protesters were held on the bridge for nearly an hour over Interstate 94 in St. Paul. After hours of people protesting, police instructed demonstrators to file onto the bridge and then announced everyone would be arrested, refusing to allow anyone off the overpass. Law enforcement barricading the bridge fired pepper spray, instructing protesters to put their hands behind their heads.

ABC News' Jennifer Duck was trapped with the marchers on the bridge and observed many young children scared and crying. She spoke to several marchers who said they wanted to go home, but the police refused to allow any movement. Members of the media, and many trying to follow police direction were being pepper sprayed in the face.

I spoke with Amy Goodman on Radio Row the day after she was arrested and after Democracy Now aired the video of the protest. She and her colleagues are asking people to demand the charges be dropped. Listen in to the interview as she describes what happened, and underscores how it is vitally important in a democracy that the press be allowed to cover protests without fear of arrest.