Settlement Reached In Arrests Of RNC Journalists

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Journalist Amy Goodman, host of the syndicated program “Democracy Now!” and two of her producers will receive $100,000 in a settlement over their arrests during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, their attorney said Monday.

Their attorney, Anjana Samant of the Center for Constitutional Rights, also said St. Paul and Minneapolis have agreed to develop a policy and training for police officers on how to avoid infringing on the First Amendment rights of journalists who cover big protests.

The settlement was reached Friday with the aid of U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan in St. Paul. The two cities agreed to pay a combined $90,000 while the federal government agreed to pay $10,000, Samant said. The lawsuit named the federal government because a Secret Service agent confiscated the press credentials of Goodman and her producers, she said.

“When journalists are arrested, it is not only a violation of the freedom the press, but of the public’s right to know,” Goodman said in a statement. “When journalists are handcuffed and abused, so is democracy. We should not have to get a record when we put things on the record.”

In New York City, where Goodman was covering the protests on Wall Street, she said the money would go “to support independent, unfettered” journalism about such events.

“Dissent is what will save our country. Dissent is what our country was founded on. It’s our job to find a place for those voices.”

Samant said some minor logistical details still need to be put in writing, but the most important points have been nailed down and both sides have agreed to end the case. Once the final document is signed and formally approved by a judge, she said, the document will be public.

Jon Iverson, an attorney for the local governments and law enforcement agencies named in the lawsuit, downplayed the significance of the settlement. He said it includes no admission of liability and lets St. Paul and Minneapolis avoid the costs of further litigation.

Iverson also said the three plaintiffs won’t get much individually after their costs are subtracted. He said police had policies in place to protect the rights of journalists before the convention and they’ll be happy to repeat the training.

The cost of the settlement was to be covered by an insurance policy taken out by convention organizers, Minneapolis city spokesman Matt Laible said.

Goodman and producers Nicole Salazaar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous were among an estimated 40 to 50 journalists arrested while covering street protests outside the convention. About 800 demonstrators and bystanders also were arrested during the convention. Authorities eventually dropped all charges against the arrested journalists and many of the protesters and bystanders.

Samant noted that both the Democratic and Republican parties will hold their next national conventions next year, and that large scale Occupy Wall Street protests against corporate greed have been under way in New York and other cities in recent days.

In light of those protests, Goodman said, the settlement “should be a warning to police departments around the country to stop arresting and intimidating journalists. We see the financial settlement and the requirement that the police departments receive First Amendment training on the rights of the press as a major step forward.”

Goodman’s New York-based show airs daily on over 900 radio and TV stations and over the Internet.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Overhere

    More taxpayer money. Minneapolis thinks that it is endless and also believes in Jack and the Magic Beans.

  • Apparently protesting is a job!

    A little information about what actions actually got them arrested would be helpful. I’m guessing based on the content of the Democracy Now! website these so called journalists were peacefully recording and reporting newsworthy terrorism (I mean protesting). I’ve got some advice for you – if you inject yourself into non peaceful protesting when the ramifications of doing so was clearly laid out by the police leading up to the convention then you’re probably going to get lumped in with the goofballs getting arrested. On the other hand maybe they were the smart ones. A $100,000 payday at the hands of the taxpayers wouldn’t be so bad now would it?

  • just mentioning

    You don’t see that kind of protesting at DFL conventions.

    What a bunch of liberal babies. Causing problems. Thats all they do.

    • Sam

      Only if you don’t pay attention.
      There is quite a bit of protesting at both conventions. The difference is more in how the authorities deal with the protesters.

      But this article wasn’t about protests. It was about journalists being arrested (which also happened at the RNC in the same year). It was about authorities who are supposed to protect the public keeping people who have press badges from doing their job.

  • StraycatStrut

    Now if the Democrat slanted journalists would report the news instead of slanted opinion…… that would be a good thing.

    • Mike

      Did you read the story? It was the police who violated the rights of journalists and that is why they received a judgement. You are amazingly dumb……

      • Phid

        Look at the third to last paragraph. The words “corporate greed” should have been in quotes, since that is presumably the protesters’ perspective on things, not a piece of factual information.

        • frozenrunner

          The Chicago Manual of Style says not. (Textbook for editors). Although there are a few people on this board tonight who could prove me wrong, one should be able to figure out that corporate greed is the stance of the protesters

  • Murph

    RNC using the handle Democracy Now! Do they think people are so stupid as to think the GOP has anything to do with democracy? It’s about keeping many of your citizens the poorest in the land,it is hoping to bring back slave labor.It’s about not taxing the rich ,only the poor and middle income.It’s about everything lewd and disgusting and nothing evangical whatsever.They have gotten by with this twisted sister act long enough, don’t you think? I think many who vote for them actually deserve to become their servants!!. Because stupid is, as stupid does!

    • Phid

      I’m guessing you’ve never seen “Democracy Now!” since it’s a liberal gaggle of a “news” show.

    • JMJ

      And what do your comments (backed by no FACTs by the way) have to do with the story above?

  • Annoyed

    When journalists get arrested it’s because they are doing something wrong. Being a journalist does not exempt you from following basic laws.

  • Phid

    Amy Goodman says “Dissent is what will save our country. Dissent is what our country was founded on. It’s our job to find a place for those voices.” One wonders if she holds to the same tune when it’s the Tea Party protesting the policies of Obama and Co.

  • See BS

    1968 US Supreme Court ruling says public school children have 1st amendment rights and public schools are not enclaves for totaitarianism.

    Public school children are being punished for free speech.

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