'Democracy Now!' host back at work day after arrest

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE
  • Star Tribune
  • September 2, 2008 - 2:29 PM

A day after being arrested with two of her producers during a Monday street skirmish, "Democracy Now!" radio and TV host Amy Goodman was back at work today, challenging St. Paul's top cop and planning a return to the convention floor.

The alternative broadcaster was handcuffed and stripped of her Monday floor credentials, she said, after she rushed to the scene of a mass arrest near Jackson Street downtown hoping to extricate two producers caught up in the crackdown.

The producers -- Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous -- eventually were arrested on suspicion of felony riot, and Goodman was cited for misdemeanor interference with a peace officer. They were jailed for five hours; Goodman for about three, she said.

"How is the press to operate in this kind of environment?" Goodman asked Police Chief John Harrington during one of the city's daily Republican National Convention briefings.

The chief said that he'd yet to review the specifics of Monday's incident. But he said that police seek to give ample warning before breaking up what they deem as unlawful assembly, and that if journalists don't clear the scene, he added, it is difficult for officers to look at protesters and reporters and "to make those kinds of fine distinctions."

The allegations against the three will be fully investigated, Harrington said.

Afterward, Goodman said she was outraged that the chief offered no immediate pledge to see that charges against the three would be dropped.

According to her account, she was at the Xcel Energy Center preparing to interview members of the Minnesota delegation when she got word of her producers being entangled in police action against a rogue band of protesters.

Police moved in quickly, Goodman said, and Salazar, who was taping the altercation, found herself backed up against a car. Salazar shouted, "Press, press," Goodman said, but the producer was forced to the ground, and had a boot placed in her back.

There had been no order by police to disperse, Goodman said.

Kouddous told reporters today that he, too, was in the parking lot when it was rushed by officers, and despite holding out his "Democracy Now!" press badge, he was shoved against a wall. His chest was bruised, he said, and his upper left arm bloodied.

Goodman added that after telling authorities that she had credentials, which she was wearing at the time, she said a Secret Service official pulled them off and said, "Now, you don't."

Asked if she'd ever been arrested before, Goodman recalled being detained by Indonesian soldiers during that country's invasion of East Timor, "one of the most brutal occupations of the century," she said. But, no, she said, not during any convention, and she has been covering them, she said, since 1988.

From her neck dangled floor credentials for today's session.

"I expect to work today," she said.

Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545

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