Amy Goodman, host of the "Democracy Now!" news program and two of her producers filed a federal lawsuit against the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Wednesday, following the journalists' arrest and mistreatment while covering the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Filed with the Center for Constitutional Rights in a federal court in Minnesota, the lawsuit says authorities violated the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to Goodman, her producers and other journalists when they interfered with their right to gather news.
This is not only a violation of freedom of the press, but a violation of the public's right to know. "When journalists are arrested, that has a chilling effect on the functioning of a democratic society," said Goodman, whose show airs on over 750 radio and TV stations across the country. "We shouldn't have to get a record to put things on the record."
According to a telephone conference with Goodman, she and her producers, Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous were arrested despite visibly holding their press passes and equipment and identified themselves as journalist. They were then physically assaulted, detained for a long period and had their cameras, video and other media equipment, as well as their personal belongings, searched and seized.