Teacher (dd month yyyy) Controversial Media and Protester Arrests mar the 2008 RNC As Senator John McCain accepted the presidential nomination from the ruling American political party on the last day of the Republican National Convention (RNC), some four hundred people including media representatives were arrested and jailed outside the building in St. Paul, Minneapolis. As per the usual custom, droves of protesters had turned up for the event, the major theme being the anti-war movement and the unrest amongst non-Republican voters that it has been this political party’s agenda to declare war on seemingly any nation that could secure a stronger future for the United States and the Republican Party.
The protesters present at the RNC represented various groups as well as many different independents who felt the need to speak out against the last eight years of Republican reign in the United States. although protesters (despite their Constitutional right to do so) can generally expect to be detained by police in such a setting, there were a high number of media bystanders amongst the arrestees. According to Poynter Online, most of the arrests were made by police on the final day of the Convention: Thursday September 4th. The police are reported to have used flash-bang grenades on the swarms of protesters and media representatives while dressed fully in riot gear, and to have made the majority of Thursday’s arrests in an area of St. Paul several blocks away from the Convention itself (retrieved 6 September 2008).
Democracy Now! reported that a great deal of Thursday’s arrestees were present to protest the arrests of Monday’s protesters who had remained jailed for an agonizingly long period according to friends and families (retrieved 6 September 2008). The online media report also states that journalists as well as protesters arrested during the Convention were given written citations for “unlawful assembly”. Pepper spray, smoke bombs and concussion grenades are reported to have been used to keep the thousands of protesters from the main downtown St. Paul area where Republicans had gathered for five days of rallying speeches and the final nomination of their presidential candidate for the upcoming US election.
At the end of the five days, it is estimated that more than eight hundred people were arrested by the police. The latter made their final attempt to stop protesters by blocking off several bridges that protesters were crossing across Interstate 94 towards downtown St. Paul. These detainees endured the barrage of police tactics for hours as they were arrested and led away two at a time. According to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, the media “get a record for trying to cover a protest”. St. Paul Sheriff Bob Fletcher seems to feel that this is of little concern since the arrests were a tactical procedure discussed beforehand by the police department. When asked whether she was afraid of being arrested during the Convention, protester Sherry Honkala was recorded on video during a passionate speech to crowds in St. Paul stating “what i’m afraid of is if we continue to let our voices be cut off” (YouTube, retrieved 6 September 2008).
“Al’s Morning Meeting.” Poynter Online. Retrieved 6 September 2008 http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=2&.aid=150023.
“Nearly 400 Arrested on Last Day of RNC, Including Over a Dozen Media Workers.” Democracy Now!. 5 September 2008 http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/5/nearly_400_arrested_on_last_day
“USA Reality – 2008 RNC, Poor Peoples March.” YouTube. Retrieved 6 September 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml4ZVdmV16M.