Interview with Lucy Dalglish
Here are excerpts from an interview MinnPost's David Brauer conducted with Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom on the Press. Dalglish was on St. Paul streets Monday but didn't see the arrests in question.
What does your organization do to help journalists covering conventions?
"We've had a [reporters'] hotline at all of the conventions since 1972, to get credentialed journalists out of trouble. We got [an AP photographer arrested Monday] out in the middle of the night….
"This is my third convention cycle. We always have more trouble at the Republican convention than the Democratic convention, largely because protesters who show up tend to be more outspoken at the Republican convention….. When reporters and photo are arrested — and it always happens at things like this — our job is to get them out of jail ASAP and back doing their job as quickly as possible."
Did the police overreact yesterday?
"History tells me that all things being equal, when the police feel intimidated by a situation, they will do exactly what they did and grab people."
What's your view on Amy Goodman trying to get through a police line to get to her producers after being warned not to do so?
"That's precisely what we advise people not to do. Some of them want to be arrested — I'm not going to be an idiot and say that doesn't happen. But our advice is to minimize the situation — when they tell you to do something, do it. If you keep going in their face, they will grab you and sort it out later.
"Yes, you have the right to be on a public street, but when you're on a public street, during a protest, it's an uneasy situation; the police feel the need to be in charge, and the police are in charge."
What about freelance videographers?
"They have time to be out there recording, just as you and I do. But if you get in the way, or if the person next to you is bashing a window, you might get swept up."
What about the freelance videographers who were arrested at their homes this weekend, not at any demonstration?
"That's just boneheadedness on the part of the cops. They're just looking ridiculous. Whoever called shots on that one looks like buffoon.
"I'm a realist, we knew when we set this up, that photographers in particular are likelier to get picked. It's their job to get in there, get photographs, but if they back up and step on a cop's big toe, they're going to get arrested.
"Then again, it was hot and steamy yesterday, and [police] saw a guy in his 60s working, and the cops couldn't have been nicer — they said sorry about this, and offered him a bottle of water."