Independent journalists targeted in Twin Cities repression

Journalist Amy Goodman was arrested in St. Paul, Minn., where she was covering the RNC protests Sept. 1. Goodman was arrested along with Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who are still being held. Ramsey County authorities say Goodman was released after being charged with “conspiracy to riot.” It is unclear of Kouddous and Salazar will face charges.

The arrests come amid a local outcry over repression against protesters by police and the Minnesota National Guard. 284 were arrested and tear gas used Sept. 1 after what police called outbreaks of violence and road obstructions by “rogue bands” of protesters among an otherwise peaceful march estimated at 10,000.

On Aug. 30, Eileen Clancy of I-Witness Video was among those detained by the police at the house where activists and journalists were staying in St. Paul. At least one police offer was carrying an M-16, Clancy wrote in her blog. (Huffington Post, I-Witness, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sept. 1)

Proceedings at the convention were held up for a day as the nation awaited the arrival of Hurricane Gustav on the Gulf Coast Sept. 1. In New Orleans, authorities warned residents who ignored a mandatory hurricane evacuation that police may arrest anyone found outside their properties during a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Nearly two million inhabitants of the Gulf Coast have fled, but around 10,000 stayed in New Orleans despite the mandatory evacuation ordered by Mayor Ray Nagin.

“The City’s mandatory evacuation, which began on Sunday, August 31, remains in effect. The City of New Orleans has a curfew from dusk until dawn beginning Sunday, August 31, 2008,” the city’s emergency operation center said in a news release. “Those persons who remain within the City of New Orleans do so at their own risk and are subject to arrest if they are outside the boundaries of their own property.” National Guard troops and police are patrolling the city’s streets, and Nagin warned that looters would be arrested and sent directly to prison. (AFP, Sept. 1)

See our last post on Twin Cities, and our special feature on New Orleans three years after Katrina.