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Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! host, was arrested at convention

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 3, 2008- Among the 280 people arrested Tuesday in events surrounding the RNC was Amy Goodman.  A YouTube video appears to show that the left-wing newscaster was arrested as she crossed a line established by police.

Glenn Greenwald in Salon writes that it is increasingly clear that the federal government is directing an "intimidation campaign" against demonstrators. His piece includes video of about a dozen police cars around a bus of agricultural protesters. It also links to a Minneapolis Star story saying that police had used informants to gather information that led to raids of six homes of anarchists in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

The police actions recall the tactics used by St. Louis police during the 2003 protests at the World Agricultural Forum in St. Louis. An ACLU suit challenging those tactics still is pending in court. Greewald's piece identifies the Joint Terrorism Task Force as involved in the arrests in St. Paul. This also recalls a 2004 St. Louis story.  The ACLU accused the Joint Terrorism Task Force in St. Louis of interrogating anti-war protesters in advance of the Republican convention that year.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher led the roundup of anarchists in St. Paul.  He said in a press release that those arrested were "criminal anarchists." The press release said that the "investigation pertains to actions of the RNC Welcoming Committee. The 'Welcoming Committee' is a criminal enterprise made up of 35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention. These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers. They have recruited assistance in their criminal conspiracy from other anarchists groups throughout the country. Through their plans and actions they have exhibited a blatant disregard for the law and the safety of others.”

Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild argued that Fletcher should produce evidence of a criminal conspiracy if he has it.  The Guild maintained that the police tactics were intended to enable authorities to hold the protesters over the weekend.  The Reporters without Borders group called for charges to be dropped against Goodman and two of her producers. The Society for Professional Journalists also protested the arrests of Goodman and an arrest of an ABC journalist last week in Denver.

Judges have allowed authorities to limit protests to particular areas at national conventions and presidential speeches.  The preemptive arrests raise the question of what evidence the police had to show there was a criminal conspiracy.

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