Twin Cities Journalists Arrested Covering RNC Protests

Two nationally honored Minneapolis television photojournalists were among almost 400 people arrested last night by police during protests outside the Republican National Convention.

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Among those arrested were Jonathan Malat, the former National Press Photogaphers Association photojournalist of the year, and Tom Aviles, who recorded his own arrest and posted it on After you see the arrest video, a second raw video appears on the site giving you an idea of what lead up to the arrests. You will see police fire dozens of flash-bang grenades at the crowd.

The station reported:

Police surrounded about 300 people, including WCCO photojournalist Tom Aviles, AP reporters Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski and reporters from other news outlets. Officers ordered them to sit on the pavement on a bridge over Interstate 94 and to keep their hands over their heads as they were led away two at a time.

Here is KARE 11's video of the arrests, along with the station's slideshow of the events. reported:

Nearly 400 of the arrests came on Thursday -- the convention's last day. A large share of those took place Thursday evening on the Marion Street Bridge, several blocks west of the Xcel Energy Center.

Police used flash-bang grenades, smoke, pepper spray and tear gas to herd scores of protesters and several journalists onto the bridge.

Dressed in riot gear, police then blocked both ends of the bridge before ordering protesters and journalists to drop to the ground and place their hands on their heads.

Among those arrested was KARE 11 photojournalist Jonathan Malat. "I never saw any excessive force other than it was just loud and chaotic," said Malat about the tactics used to push people toward the bridge. Earlier, police had given several orders for the crowd to disperse. "I was just there to cover the event," explained Malat.

The protesters were part of a much larger group that had started their antiwar march hours earlier at the state capitol.

When the marchers attempted to cross the John Ireland Bridge, a possible route to the Xcel Energy Center, police blocked the north end of the bridge as rush hour traffic passed below on Interstate 94.

Malat and several other journalists with RNC credentials were cited for unlawful assembly and released. Others on the bridge were handcuffed, loaded onto busses and taken to the Ramsey County jail.

KARE 11 anchor/reporter Rick Kupchella provides running details on the story on his blog. He points out the photographers who were arrested were credentialed. He says some of those caught up in the arrests appeared to be shoppers who were coming out of a Sears store then were pushed back to a bridge by police.

Kupchella's blog documents the tensions rising throughout the evening, including protestors throwing feces at cops and then extending their protest past the permitted time.

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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