Two journalists for Democracy Now were arrested on two separate occasions and Democracy Now host Amy Goodman was arrested as she sought their release. Police also targeted independent journalists, such as I-Witness Video, with multiple house raids.
The targeting of journalists began with three video artists/journalists associated with Glass Bead Collective who were subject to an unconstitutional stop and seizure of their video equipment, personal property, notebooks, and phones in the early morning hours of August 27th, 2008, in Minneapolis.
They were initially told that they were stopped due to "car burglaries" in the neighborhood and then under suspicion that they had trespassed in an adjoining railroad yard. After seizing the equipment and personal property, police obtained a search warrant on August 27th, presumably viewed all pictures and video pursuant to the warrant,and then released the property on August 28th.
The stated purpose of the warrant was to seek photographic evidence in support of an investigation of "criminal trespass." No charges have been filed or are expected. All three journalists were detained as they walked home after getting off a city bus.
Lawyers for the three are obtaining copies of the warrants and seeking to preserve evidence related to stop to consider possible further legal action. Copies of the squad car videos have been preserved and are being reviewed.
The three were assisted by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and held a press conference on August 27th, which resulted in widespread media coverage and substantial pressure on the City of Minneapolis, resulting in the prompt release of the seized property. See below for original Press Release.
MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICERS DETAIN INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS AND ILLEGALLY SEIZE EQUIPMENT
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (August 26, 2008) – Minneapolis Police officers detained three journalists early this morning, confiscating each of the their personal belongings including cell phones, video cameras, still cameras, a computer, hard drive, clothing, personal objects and money. The journalists are all members of New York City based Glass Bead Collective and are in town to document the events around the Republican National Convention.
Police officer York photographed the three journalists and questioned them individually about their travel plans and what they intended to report on. The officers refused to file an official report of the incident or give a receipt for the items taken, claiming that they were allowed to conduct the search and seizure under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security due to security risks leading up to the Republican National Convention.
The journalists were detained and then released after their belongings were confiscated. The journalists were clear that they did not consent to being searched at any point during the detainment.
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