Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) Condemns Police Attacks on Journalists

Dispatch from the Angry Middle:

Finally... someone from Congress weighs in. You'd think this would interest them - at least marginally - since they supposedly represent us huddled masses in this withering democracy.

Posted by now journalistic hero, Amy Goodman:

Amy Goodman: Democratic Congress member Keith Ellison of Minnesota has been back in the Twin Cities this week closely monitoring the treatment of protesters and journalists at the RNC. He joins me now here.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

Rep. Keith Ellison: Glad to be here, Amy.

Amy Goodman: And thanks for helping out last night. It's a very serious situation, of course. Hundreds of people remain in jail. This rule of thirty-six hours, can you explain how it works?

Rep. Keith Ellison: Well, first of all, the thirty-six hours doesn't count weekends. And so, if you get --

Amy Goodman: Or Labor Day, which was yesterday.

Rep. Keith Ellison: Or a holiday. So if you get arrested, say, on a Friday night, you could be getting out -- hopefully, if you can -- maybe Wednesday midday. So it really is something that can take quite a bit of your freedom away.

Amy Goodman: You're -- in addition to being a Congress member, you're a lawyer?

Rep. Keith Ellison: For about sixteen years, I practiced law right here in the courts of Minneapolis-St. Paul and all over Minnesota.

Amy Goodman: It was Minneapolis police, by the way, who arrested us, even though we're here in St. Paul. Why is that?

Rep. Keith Ellison: Well, because they brought in probably a number of jurisdictions to help their complement of officers who would try to do policing activity here for the RNC. So I wouldn't be surprised if they have other jurisdictions besides Minneapolis. Might have a number of suburban districts and maybe even some from further away than that.

Amy Goodman: And, of course, National Guard.

Rep. Keith Ellison: Yeah, no doubt about that. Secret Service.

Amy Goodman: And is there a fusion center here in the Twin Cities?

Rep. Keith Ellison: You mean, a coordinating center? Yeah, I'm quite certain there is. I can't give you details on that, because, quite frankly, I thought that it was going to be a relatively routine situation. But when you see some of the footage that I saw, it was anything but routine. It looked quite extraordinary, to tell you the truth.

And when you hear about journalists getting arrested, it's very disturbing. I mean, the news gatherers -- how can the people know, if they don't have news gatherers to gather the news and show them? But when those folks are being intimidated and even roughed up, it's pretty -- it actually is a threat to democracy and the First Amendment.

Amy Goodman: Right, we don't know if the Associated Press photographers have gotten out, if the Pepper spray videographers have gotten out. Even the New York Post guy, we don't know what happened to him at this moment. And, of course, there are many, many people who are on the streets who get rounded up just by virtue of being there. When they move in with such a fast pincer move from all corners and surround a block -- this was basically a parking lot -- there is nowhere to go.

Rep. Keith Ellison: Right. There's nowhere to go. And, of course, they know that, as well. It's not like they haven't mapped out the whole area and don't know exactly what forces are moving in which directions. They do know. And, of course, it's pretty clear that Nicole and Sharif were making their status as press widely known, and it was easy to hear it; you know, clearly on the tape, it was easy to hear. So that's pretty disturbing to me, and I'm actually pretty upset about it.

Amy Goodman: So you weighed in last night as they were in jail. You called the police commissioner.

Rep. Keith Ellison: I called and let them -- just provided the information. You know, this is who you have. This is the deal, stuff like that. So, you know, I just think it's important to make sure that when journalists are trying to do their work, that they are allowed to do it.

Amy Goodman: This is only the second day, and, in fact, the Republican convention was not in even full gear because of Hurricane Gustav yesterday, though the protests in the streets were. You've got a number more days. What is the plan for the city?

Rep. Keith Ellison: Well, you know, that's what I'm trying to find out right now. I mean, before, quite frankly, I was perfectly content to allow the police to do the work they were doing, and I'm just going to go do the work I do. But now, I do have a new -- an urgent curiosity to find out what the plan is. When are massive uses of force going to be deployed? What circumstances will trigger them? Have we looked -- have we recognized the fact that we can actually cause more trouble than what would otherwise happen, when we bring forth this massive use of force as we saw on the tape? And so, I'm concerned about it. I think overreaction is as bad as under-reaction, and what I saw on that tape was pretty disturbing.

I still find it intriguing that it was a Secret Service officer who ripped the press credentials off of Amy Goodman and her producers, while they were already in police custody.

The Secret Service get their orders from... the President, don't they? Either the President or the Vice.

It is interesting to note that the same attacks on journalists have been happening in Iraq for the entire duration of the war; well, at least since the journalists stopped 'embedding' with the Army. More journalists have been targeted and killed in the Iraq war than in any previous war.

I guess Bush doesn't like journalists. To his way of thinking, their job is to spread pro-Bush propaganda. If they happen to stray off of their 'talking points,' he cracks down hard.

For the most part, the corporate media stays on (Bush) message quite nicely. Only foreign or independent (a.k.a. actual investigative) journalists are routinely and often permanently silenced.

Truth is a dangerous thing... if you have something to hide.

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