1st Amendment Victory in Goodman v. St. Paul, MN Police

5 October 2011 — Center for Constitutional Rights

Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) with co-counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York and Albert Goins in Minneapolis, celebrated a landmark settlement in Goodman v. St. Paul, a federal lawsuit brought by Democracy Now! journalists Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, and Nicole Salazar against the Minneapolis-St. Paul police departments and the U.S. Secret Service, arising from law enforcement’s unlawful arrest and use of excessive of force during the journalists’ coverage of protests and demonstrations around the 2008 Republic National Convention (RNC). Learn more about the case here.

CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, Democracy Now! journalists Amy Goodman and CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, Democracy Now! journalists Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Steven Reiss from Weil, Gotshal & Manges discussed the settlement during a press conference held at Occupy Wall Street in New York. Goodman also highlighted the case during a broadcast of Democracy Now! on Monday morning. Photo by Meghan Krumholz. and Steven Reiss from Weil, Gotshal & Manges discussed the settlement during a press conference held at Occupy Wall Street in New York.

The final settlement includes compensation of $100,000 for the three journalists and an agreement by the St. Paul police department to implement a training program for 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.

CCR and the Plaintiffs hope this settlement sends a strong message to police departments all over the country – including the New York Police Department responding to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and police departments in cities hosting upcoming political conventions – that the First Amendment rights of protestors and journalists must be respected and that the police will be held accountable for unlawful and overly aggressive law enforcement tactics.The policies, practices and actions of federal and local law enforcement at the RNC are part of a larger civil liberties crisis that has been intensifying at an alarming rate over the past decade. CCR, with the support of people like you, will continue the fight for the constitutional rights of both protestors and journalists.

Looking for some quality fall reading?

Check out Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in Twenty-First-Century America, a timely book describing government attacks on dissent and protest in the United States, authored by CCR president Emeritus Michael Ratner and attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler and featuring a forward by CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. Part One of the book examines the state of dissent in the 21st century, while Part Two, “If An Agent Knocks,” provides helpful tips and hands-on advice for dissenters, activists, and protesters engaged in the issues facing the country today. For the CCR supporters near New York City, Margaret Ratner Kunstler will be signing copies of Hell No! today at 3 p.m. at the Occupy Wall Street site on the west side of Zuccotti Park.

Another great read is Patriot Acts, a book of oral histories documenting the experiences of men and women caught up in post 9/11 profiling and injustice. Patriot Acts features testimony from a plaintiff in Turkmen v. Ashcroft, CCR’s class action civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of a class of Muslim, South Asian, and Arab non-citizens who were swept up by the INS and FBI in a religious profiling dragnet following 9/11, as well as Sara Jayyousi, a daughter of two plaintiffs in Aref v. Holder, CCR’s lawsuit challenging policies and practices at Communications Management Units, experimental federal prison units. Patriot Acts is edited by Alia Malek, who recently wrote a detailed article about the CMUs in The Nation.

Thank you for your continued support.

Annette Warren Dickerson

Director of Education and Outreach

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