Dressed in riot gear and wielding wooden batons, police swarmed a group of citizens outside the Republican National Convention in 2008, arresting anybody who stood in their way.
Filed last year on behalf of Democracy Now! by the Center for Constitutional Rights and pro bono attorneys Steven Reiss from Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP in New York and Albert Goins of Minneapolis, the federal lawsuit asserted that the government cannot, in the name of security, limit the flow of information by intimidating and arresting journalists who engaged in constitutionally protected reporting on speech protected by the First Amendment such as dissent or law enforcement activities.
The settlement includes compensation of $100,000 for the three journalists and an agreement by the St. Paul police department to implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public with respect to police operations — including police handling of media coverage of mass demonstrations — and to pursue implementation of the training program in Minneapolis and statewide.
The settlement will be covered by an insurance policy taken out by convention organizers, according to the Associated Press.
Democratic National Convention
In August, eight plaintiffs, including at least one photographer, agreed to a $200,000 settlement after they were arrested outside the Democratic National Convention in Denver that same year.
That settlement also required the Denver Police Department to go through mandatory training.
That settlement will also be covered by an insurance policy, which was purchased by the federal government.
So in reality, the cities and their police departments got off pretty easy.
But it was never about the money, said Kim Sidwell, a photographer who was among the arrested during the Democratic National Convention.
“This taught me to never give up my rights,” she said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime. “It empowered me even more than before.”