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Amy Goodman, one of four journalists arrested at an anti-RNC protest, tells her story

September 3, 2008 |  5:00 am

Amy Amy Goodman, the host of the popular radio and television program "Democracy Now!" was at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul on Monday, interviewing members of the Alaska delegation, when her phone rang with alarming news.

“I got a call that two of our producers had been bloodied by the police,” Goodman said. “I did not stop running until I got to where they were.”

The producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, had been reporting on the protest of the convention that was the unfolding several blocks away. Most of the estimated 10,000 people in the march were peaceful. But, according to police, a group of about 200 had fractured off and were breaking windows, slashing tires and harassing delegates.

Police arrested 286 people, according to the Associated Press. Kouddous and Salazar were among them. Matt Rourke, a photographer with the AP, was also arrested.

News gathering is a constitutionally protected activity in the United States. But although Kouddous, Salazar and Rourke were wearing credentials that identified them as members of the press, they were held on riot charges. Salazar suffered a bloody nose after being dragged, face-down on the ground, according a statement released by "Democracy Now!"

When Goodman arrived at the scene 20 minutes later, she asked the riot police if she could see her producers, who were being held in police vehicles. “I just said, 'I want to talk to a commander,' ” said Goodman, who had her own press badge slung around her neck. “They didn’t skip a beat; they just started arresting me.”

The scene was captured on video -- a clip that was one the most-viewed videos on YouTube.com on Tuesday. In it, Goodman is seen pleading with the police while her arms are twisted behind her back and into plastic handcuffs.

All four journalists were released hours after being arrested. Goodman was officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer.

"Democracy Now!" plans to continue its coverage of the protests despite the police presence, which Goodman described as "overly aggressive."

"I was very angry. This was a violation of my rights," Goodman said. "But
it’s so much bigger than us. When the press is shut down, it's closing the eyes and ears of a critical watchdog in a democratic society."

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo of Amy Goodman by Michael Keel via Democracy Now!

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