Dozens of journalists arrested at RNC

Their crime? Covering the story

"Those things are all bullshit, anyway," scoffed a young officer who was standing nearby.

"I just checked 'em," she replied. "They're valid."

"Well, I heard that press are going to jail tonight anyway, so it doesn't matter." He turned his head and spat.

As John McCain spoke inside the Xcel Energy Center about America's obligation to confront "threats to peace and liberty," armed agents were busy cuffing and detaining nearly 400 people, many of them journalists and bystanders
Nick Vlcek
As John McCain spoke inside the Xcel Energy Center about America's obligation to confront "threats to peace and liberty," armed agents were busy cuffing and detaining nearly 400 people, many of them journalists and bystanders

Officers put us in white plastic cuffs. They herded us over to the curb. Of the 24 people perched on the curb, at least five were reporters of some stripe. We were charged with unlawful assembly. To my right sat a young videographer with MTV. Two spots down to my left sat Art Hughes, who, exactly one week earlier, had penned a guest opinion in the Pioneer Press condemning the detention of reporters and confiscation of equipment (it was titled "Free people in a free country are free to use their cameras"). The short, unassuming freelancer now sat on a curb, his hands bound, his backpack lying useless on the grass behind him.

We sat there for two and a half hours as police processed the hundreds of detainees. We were searched and patted down. Officers snapped makeshift mug shots in the middle of the road. Finally, we were herded into Greyhound buses bound for the Ramsey County Detention Center in St. Paul.

There, we were fingerprinted and held in 15x30 chain-link holding pens—a dozen people per cell—for about three more hours. One by one, we were called up to speak with booking officers. Then more waiting. Our names would be called again. Paperwork with another officer. Then still more waiting.

When my name was called to speak with officer L. Boudal, she handed me a checklist of my possessions. I verified that the list was accurate and complete, then answered a few very broad medical questions.

"Okay, that should do," she said. "Go ahead and take a seat and wait for the next officer to call you. Any questions?"

"Yes. What's happened to our democracy?"

A startled pause, then a quick recovery: "It's still here, don'tcha think? You'll just have to remember to follow the orders next time, won'tcha?"

I was freed at 3:30 a.m. 

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