The Republican National Convention kicked off with protests, police, rubber bullets, pepper spray and 250-plus arrests Monday in St. Paul, MN. Among those who were reportedly violently arrested was Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, who was attempting to free two producers who she claimed were being unlawfully detained.
Police “manhandled” Goodman, yanking her arm as they arrested her, according to a release by Democracy Now! She was hauled into jail while attempting to release producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who were covering street demonstrations.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.
A peaceful demonstration Monday gave way to a near riot when police, responding to a splinter group of protesters who smashed a store and some police car windows, broke out the pepper spray and rubber bullets and let loose on the crowd, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
More than 2,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, many in full riot gear, lined the parade route to keep the estimated 10,000 marchers from straying from their permitted march, the Chronicle reported.
Groups of demonstrators, many of whom identified as anarchists, broke from the main march. They set a fire in a garbage Dumpster, damaged five police squad cars and smashed three giant display windows at a Macy's department store, police said.
“Certainly there were troublemakers (Monday), and they deserved to be arrested," said Teresa Nelson, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union-Minnesota.
"But we're very troubled that the police were using heavy-handed tactics. We heard reports from people who were listening to music in the park and who were surrounded and detained."