Dear Pro-Democracy Colleagues,
We join with you in condemning the arrest and harassment of Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and members of her crew on the first day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. These arrests were a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists and an assault on our constitution.
Goodman was arrested for simply questioning police about the unlawful detention of producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar who were covering street demonstrations in St. Paul. All three were roughly handled.
Goodman, Abdel and Kouddous were released hours after being arrested but charges against them are pending, including felony riot charges against Kouddous and Salazar. Goodman was officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer.
The Nation calls for these charges to be dropped immediately.
Not only is arresting and detaining journalists for doing their work a violation of free speech and freedom of the press, but it is a travesty that our tax dollars are being used to suppress dissent and arrest journalists at conventions that should be celebrations of our small “d” democracy.
As media watchdog Free Press’s statement denouncing the arrests reminds us, “Reporting by independent journalists is the only way for the American public to learn the full story, and they must be free to do their jobs.”
And, as she does every morning on Democracy Now!, the nationally-syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and tv stations across the US and the globe, Amy Goodman says what needs to be said–without fear and with passionate clarity: “I was very angry. This was a violation of my rights. But it’s so much bigger than us. When the press is shut down, it’s closing the eyes and ears of a critical watchdog in a democratic society.”
On behalf of my colleagues and in defense of democracy,
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor & Publisher