Last night, I got a dispatch from the Huffington Post — I’m on their e-mail list, it appears — informing me of the “illegal” arrest of Amy Goodman outside the Republican convention. The HuffPo posted a press release from Amy Goodman’s organization, Democracy Now, declaring her arrest “illegal” and unprovoked. The activists caught it on tape:
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her.
Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfuly detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman’s crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.
Actually, Goodman’s crime appears to have been obstruction of justice and interfering with police in the performance of their duty — just from Democracy Now’s description. The video makes this even more clear. They tell her twice to move back, and when she refuses to cooperate, they arrest her. The police did not “violently manhandle” her; they arrested her in the normal manner by ensuring that she was physically secured, for their own protection.
Goodman had no right to interfere with the arrest of her colleagues. She could have bailed them out later, or perhaps found them an attorney, but interfering with police while making arrests is in fact against the law here in St. Paul and everywhere else. She wasn’t defending freedom of the press — she was trying to get herself arrested along with her activist partners.
I enthusiastically support the right of people to stage political protests, as long as they do not break the law. If they break the law, they had better be prepared to suffer the consequences. When those consequences arrive, pardon me if my sympathies lie with the police who keep our community safe and protect free speech for everyone rather than the agitators trying to disrupt the exercise of free speech in the Xcel Center this week.