ACLU condemns mass arrests of RNC demonstrators

Nick Langewis
Raw Story
Tuesday, Sept 3, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for investigation into charges of mass arrests and police brutality as the Republican National Convention goes on.

"Conducting mass arrests and raiding meeting places of innocent Americans exercising their constitutional right to express political dissent are antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

In the run-up to the convention, the ACLU of Minnesota filed five lawsuits aiming to protect free speech and due process rights for convention attendees and demonstrators this week. Pre-convention home raids conducted in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area over the weekend included the headquarters of anarchist organization RNC Welcoming Committee and a "hippie house" inhabited by members of Food Not Bombs. Dozens were detained and six arrested.

Reports of mass arrests continue. On Tuesday, at least three people were arrested during a march of nearly a thousand organized by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. This follows numerous Monday occurrences, which include the arrest of an Associated Press photographer and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, along with 139 felony charges issued among nearly 300 demonstrators, whose arrests were made with such chemical aids as pepper spray and tear gas.

"Free speech has to be safeguarded during the Republican National Convention, as the workings of our democracy in the streets are as important as those in convention halls," Romero added. "Allegations of police misconduct must be investigated thoroughly and free speech must be safeguarded for the remainder of the convention."

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