An “Unlawful Assembly of Journalists”

All charges against the Democracy Now! journalists violently arrested outside the Republican National Convention last month have been dropped.

The St. Paul City Attorney’s Office announced yesterday that it is dropping misdemeanor charges journalists arrested during the RNC.

This development shouldn’t surprise anyone. The charges were so flimsy and frivolous that it’s doubtful the authorities ever intended to pursue them in court. The arrests were clearly a tactic of diversion and intimidation to keep journalists from doing their jobs.

Mayor Chris Coleman, meet George Orwell (h/t Crooks and Liars):

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said Friday that the city attorney’s office recommended against prosecuting reporters for the misdemeanor charge.

“This decision reflects the values we have in St. Paul to protect and promote our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press,” Coleman said in a statement.

He added, “At the scene, the police did their duty in protecting public safety. In this decision, we are serving the public’s interest to maintain the integrity of our democracy, system of justice and freedom of the press.”

Although St. Paul officials received “tens of thousands” of outraged letters protesting the way Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, and Nicole Salazar, were treated, it’s unlikely that charges were dropped for that reason alone, or even primarily for that reason. As Lindsay Beyerstein suggests in the snip above (and here), the charges never passed the laugh test to begin with, and the powers that be in St. Paul almost certainly knew that from the start. The true purpose of the harassment, physical brutality, and arrests was to keep those particular journalists from doing their jobs, and to serve as a warning to others who might want to inform the public about “what’s happening on their streets.”

Chris Bowers sees a more cynical political calculus at work:

An investigation is indeed necessary, but I am already pretty sure about what happened:

  1. In August, protesters at the 2004 RNC successfully won police brutality lawsuits against the New York City police department.
  2. So, a few days later, the Republican Party indemnified the St. Paul police for up to $10 million in the event that charges of police brutality would be brought against them.
  3. Then, at the convention, the police went out and illegally beat up $10 million worth of progressives, including progressive media. It was a free beating for them.

In short, the Republican Party paid for $10 million of thuggery against progressives. You know, like a garnish on their convention. How can a gathering of conservative authoritarians be complete without a good hippie beat down, anyway? Here is the video of one of the Democracy Now! Journalists being arrested, which I think tells a clearer tale of this than even the often viewed Amy Goodman video:

He is John McCain, and he approved this message.

Basically, with no cause, police ran over and beat up some members of the progressive media. They did it because the money they will lose from civil suits over the matter has already been paid. So, of course the charges were dropped. There were no real charges. It was beating, paid for by the Republican Party, pure and simple.

Try not to view this very short video on a full stomach, and be cautious even if you have not eaten recently. If you are the sensitive sort, like I am, you might find yourself nauseated, gasping for breath, and struggling not to cry.

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