U.S. Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, condemns police intimidation of journalists

Posted on September 2, 2008

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http://www.democracynow.org

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Congress member Keith Ellison of Minnesota has been back in the Twin Cities this week closely monitoring the treatment of protesters and journalists at the RNC. He joins me now here.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

REP. KEITH ELLISON: Glad to be here, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: And thanks for helping out last night. It’s a very serious situation, of course. Hundreds of people remain in jail. This rule of thirty-six hours, can you explain how it works?

REP. KEITH ELLISON: Well, first of all, the thirty-six hours doesn’t count weekends. And so, if you get—

AMY GOODMAN: Or Labor Day, which was yesterday.

REP. KEITH ELLISON: Or a holiday. So if you get arrested, say, on a Friday night, you could be getting out—hopefully, if you can—maybe Wednesday midday. So it really is something that can take quite a bit of your freedom away.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re—in addition to being a Congress member, you’re a lawyer?

REP. KEITH ELLISON: For about sixteen years, I practiced law right here in the courts of Minneapolis-St. Paul and all over Minnesota.

AMY GOODMAN: It was Minneapolis police, by the way, who arrested us, even though we’re here in St. Paul. Why is that?

REP. KEITH ELLISON: Well, because they brought in probably a number of jurisdictions to help their complement of officers who would try to do policing activity here for the RNC. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they have other jurisdictions besides Minneapolis. Might have a number of suburban districts and maybe even some from further away than that.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, National Guard.

REP. KEITH ELLISON: Yeah, no doubt about that. Secret Service.

AMY GOODMAN: And is there a fusion center here in the Twin Cities?

REP. KEITH ELLISON: You mean, a coordinating center? Yeah, I’m quite certain there is. I can’t give you details on that, because, quite frankly, I thought that it was going to be a relatively routine situation. But when you see some of the footage that I saw, it was anything but routine. It looked quite extraordinary, to tell you the truth.

And when you hear about journalists getting arrested, it’s very disturbing. I mean, the news gatherers—how can the people know, if they don’t have news gatherers to gather the news and show them? But when those folks are being intimidated and even roughed up, it’s pretty—it actually is a threat to democracy and the First Amendment. [more]

Please click to view the videoclip of the arrests of Democracy Now journalists and the interview of Keith Ellison.

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