ST. PAUL, Minn. -- On Friday morning, local advocates and independent journalists will deliver more that 50,000 petitions to St. Paul City Hall calling on Mayor Chris Coleman and local law enforcement officials to drop all charges against journalists arrested while covering protests outside the Republican National Convention.
WHAT: Delivery of 50,000 letters demanding charges against journalists be dropped
WHEN: Sept. 5, 10 a.m. CT
WHERE: St. Paul City Hall, 15 Kellogg Blvd.
WHO: Local advocates and independent journalists from KFAI Community Radio, National Lawyers Guild, Twin Cities Daily Planet, Twin Cities IndyMedia, Twin Cities Media Alliance and The Uptake.
On Monday, local law enforcement officials arrested Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and two producers from her show, Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke and several independent videographers while they were covering protests outside the Republican National Convention. Other independent journalists have also been pepper-sprayed and even held at gunpoint during "pre-emptive" raids aimed at disrupting protesters.
"The targeting and harassment of journalists that we've seen during the RNC sends the message that the Twin Cities don't value the essential role that journalists play in a democracy," said Nancy Doyle Brown of Twin Cities Media Alliance. "From the pre-convention raids to the ongoing harassment and arrests of journalists, these have been dark days for press freedom in the United States. We're bringing Mayor Coleman more than 50,000 letters from people across the nation demanding that all charges pending against these journalists be dropped."
Following the arrests, Free Press, the national media reform organization, circulated a petition demanding that Mayor Coleman and local authorities immediately "free all detained journalists and drop all charges against them" -- garnering more than 50,000 signatures nationwide in less than two days. Their call has been echoed by groups including the Society for Professional Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Watch the video of Goodman's arrest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYjyvkR0bGQ
Watch other journalists being arrested, as recorded by The UpTake: http://theuptake.org/