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Journalists awarded $100K over RNC arrests

Oct. 4, 2011 at 3:17 PM
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ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Three journalists who sued over their arrests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., will receive a total of $100,000 in a settlement.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Monday the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis will pay $90,000 and the U.S. government $10,000 to "Democracy Now" journalists Amy Goodman, Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous.

The lawsuit alleged police and other law enforcement officials violated the journalists' First Amendment rights by interfering with their ability to gather news.

"Our clients -- they're journalists," said Anjana Samant, a Center for Constitutional Rights attorney who represented the journalists. "They really were committed and disturbed by the principle that they weren't allowed to do their job. They're looking for an actual change in how policing happens."

As riot police gathered near the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, Salazar and Kouddous, both producers, were wearing visible press passes and identified themselves as journalists, the complaint said.

As Salazar videotaped, officers corralled journalists and bystanders in a parking lot.

Officers pushed Salazar to the ground, knocking a video camera from her hands, and arrested her, the complaint said. When Kouddous shouted to officers that Salazar was a member of the press, officers pushed him against a wall, and Goodman was arrested and pushed to the ground after asking officers to release her producers, the complaint said.

Salazar was cited for felony riot, Kouddous was told he was facing the same charge and Goodman was cited for interference with a peace officer and obstruction of the legal process. Prosecutors have dropped all charges.

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