Last updated: September 2, 2008 - 9:13pm
Protesters attacked delegates, smashed windows, punctured car tires and threw bottles Monday, a violent counterpoint to an otherwise peaceful anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. Police wielding pepper spray arrested at least 56 people. At least four journalists were among those detained, including Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke and Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, a nationally syndicated public radio and TV news program. Goodman was intervening on behalf of two producers for her program, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, when she was arrested, said Mike Burke, another producer. The trouble happened not far from the Xcel Energy Center convention site, and many of those involved in the more violent protest were clad in black and identified themselves to reporters as anarchists. They wrought havoc by damaging property and setting at least one fire. Most of the trouble was in pockets of a neighborhood near downtown, several blocks from where the convention was taking place. But the main antiwar march was peaceful, police said, estimating about 10,000 people participated. Late Monday afternoon, long after the antiwar marchers had dispersed, police requested and got 150 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to help control splinter groups near downtown. Free Press called on St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and local law enforcement officials to drop all charges against all journalists arrested while covering protests outside the Republican National Convention. Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, said, "We condemn the arrest and harassment of journalists before and during the Republican National Convention. We call on the mayor, district attorney and police chief to rein in the overly aggressive -- and even violent -- tactics of law enforcement. Arresting and detaining journalists for doing their jobs is a gross violation of free speech and freedom of the press. We call for the immediate release of any journalists being held in the Twin Cities and for all charges to be dropped immediately. Reporting by independent journalists is the only way for the American public to learn the full story, and they must be free to do their jobs without intimidation."
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