Deal includes cop 'training on First Amendment rights'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2011, 11:57am PT  

The St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, along with the U.S. Secret Service, have agreed to pay $100,000 in compensation as part of a settlement in a federal lawsuit filed after the inappropriate arrests and detentions of journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and two of her producers at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The settlement also includes an agreement that the St. Paul police department will "implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public."

As we originally reported in September of 2008, the three journalists were arrested (along with other members of the media) while covering protests and mass arrests outside the GOP convention, despite clearly identifying themselves to the police as members of the media.

In addition to the mass arrests of active protesters, footage later emerged showing an absolutely bizarre, and seemingly indiscriminate, police crackdown on peaceful citizens otherwise having gathered in a nearby city park (See video below.)

Democracy Now! producer Nicole Salazar was even roughed up by police in the course of her apprehension. Goodman, who had rushed out from the convention floor after hearing of the arrests of her producers, was cuffed and taken in despite no hint of inappropriate behavior, as seen in the two short video clips below...

Just 20 days later, to no one's surprise, the charges were completely dropped. But a lawsuit was filed nonetheless and this week Goodman announced details of the settlement...

A final settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit challenging the police crackdown on journalists reporting on the 2008 Republican National Convention and protests in St. Paul, Minnesota. Democracy Now! host and executive producer Amy Goodman, along with former producers Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, filed the lawsuit last year against the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments, the Ramsey County Sheriff and United States Secret Service personnel. The lawsuit challenged the policies and conduct of law enforcement during the 2008 RNC that resulted in their arrests. They were among dozens of journalists arrested that week in St. Paul. The settlement includes $100,000 in compensation paid by the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments and the Secret Service. The settlement also includes an agreement by the St. Paul police department to implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public with respect to police operations, including proper procedures for dealing with the press covering demonstrations.

As we reported on the day charges were initially dropped against the Democracy Now! journalists several weeks after their arrest, footage of police in riot gear making massive, and seemingly inappropriate, arrests of peaceful citizens at a nearby city park was initially withheld from public release out of fear of police intimidation...

New footage was released late last week (said by the videographers to have been "buried" until now to avoid confiscation) of a bizarre mass arrest by St. Paul police. Scores of seemingly peaceful folks just sitting in a park are seeing being seized by riot squads. "LisaG," posting at Firedoglake, notes:

My personal favorite moment in the tape is an off-camera exchange. Police in riot gear have surrounded loungers in a waterfront park. They announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen, You're Under Arrest" and you hear one young woman say incredulously "Are you serious?"

Yep, I'm afraid they are.