“The Anarchists Were Holding People Hostage”

Jeremy Gantz

The strong-arm police tactics continue here in St. Paul, days after Monday's massive march peacefully ended (along with that day's separate violent clashes, which have been too conflated by media accounts). Yesterday police entered the office of I-Witness Video, which has been doing its best to document the protests, citing a highly dubious pretext. According to the lawyer assisting I-Witness:They told me that somebody, an undercover had told them, that the anarchists were holding people hostage in our building. That, of course, was not true. Check out the full statement here. A full menu of protest/arrest stories is here.A lot of the disturbing police actions here seem premised on the assumption that those dedicated to covering demonstrators and marches (such as I-Witness, or Democracy Now!) are somehow guilty by close journalistic association. This is really pernicious.Now, from what I've seen this week in the streets of St. Paul, it is true that the line between journalist and protester can grow blurry. Cameras are so ubiquitous, there is no clear dress code, and many people covering protesters are moving with them, even through them. When things get rowdy, journalists can easily get caught up in the action -- especially when they want to be there to witness events.But arresting journalists after they've clearly identified themselves as such, and entering the offices of news outlets citing bogus "undercover" source information -- this is chilling stuff.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America’s War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/​Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012.

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