Lawsuit Challenges Police and Secret Service Crackdown on Journalists Covering Protests at Republican National Convention
ST. PAUL, MN - Today, the Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR) with co-counsel De Leon & Nestor and Weil, Gotshal
& Manges LLP, filed a federal lawsuit against the
Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and officers, the
municipalities, the Ramsey County Sheriff and unidentified Secret
Service personnel. The lawsuit challenges the policies and conduct of
law enforcement during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in 2008
that resulted in the unlawful arrests and unreasonable use of force
against the plaintiffs, three Democracy Now! journalists: Amy
Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar.
Said award-winning journalist and plaintiff Amy Goodman:
"We shouldn't have to get a record to put things on the record. This is
not only a violation of freedom of the press but a violation of the
public's right to know. When journalists are arrested, that has a
chilling effect on the functioning of a democratic society."
Goodman v. St. Paul seeks compensation and an injunction
against law enforcement's unjustified encroachment on First Amendment
rights, including freedom of the press and the independence of the
media. Attorneys say the government cannot limit journalists' right to
cover matters of public concern by requiring that they present a
particular perspective; for instance, the government cannot require
journalists to "embed" with state authorities. Goodman further
asserts that the government cannot, in the name of security, limit the
flow of information by acting unwarrantedly against journalists who
report on speech protected by the First Amendment, such as dissent, and
the public acts of law enforcement.
"The media are the eyes and ears of the American people-that is why
there are laws to protect them," said CCR attorney Anjana Samant.
"Law enforcement and Secret Service agents are not exempt from those
laws in their dealings with un-embedded journalists who are documenting
peaceful protestors or law enforcement's use of force and violence
against those protestors."
"The protests on the streets outside the convention center are just as
important to the democratic process as the official party proceedings
inside," said journalist and plaintiff Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
"Journalists should not have to risk being arrested, brutalized or
intimidated by the police in order to perform their duties, exercise
their First Amendment rights and facilitate the rights of others to
freedom of speech and assembly."
"The video of my arrest and of Amy's mobilized an overwhelming public
response," said journalist Nicole Salazar. "The public
has both an interest and a right to know how law enforcement officials
are acting on their behalf. We should ask ourselves what kind of
accountability exists when there is no coverage of police brutality and
For more information on the case, visit CCR's legal case page.