Unlawful assembly charges dropped for arrested journalists at RNC

In brief

September 30, 2008

On Sept. 19, St. Paul city officials announced that they were dropping "unlawful assembly" charges against journalists who were arrested during protests at the Republican National Convention.

Mayor Chris Coleman said the city attorney's office recommended against prosecuting reporters for the misdemeanor charge.

During the convention, 818 people were swept up in mass arrests in just four days. Among them were more than 40 journalists covering the demonstrations.

"It's always good to learn that a bogus charge against you has been dropped," said Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel for the Associated Press. "We're still waiting for police to account for the unprovoked smackdowns of two of our photographers." (WTOP News, Sept. 19)

Mass arrests are a textbook tactic to intimidate and silence any form of public protest, and are often coupled with trumped-up charges aimed at putting the victims on the defensive.

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