September 3, 2008
Saint Paul, Minn- Two photo journalism students were released September 3rd after being held without charge for 36 hours following their arrest during the Republican National Convention. The advisor was also arrested, but released earlier without charges.
Two students, Britney McIntosh and Edward Matthews, and their advisor, James Winn, of the University of Kentucky newspaper the Kentucky Kernel were arrested on Labor Day while photographing demonstrations and law enforcement response outside the RNC. The Kernel has a circulation of 30,000, one of the largest rates of student newspapers in the country, and the students and their advisor had journalist credentials and registration when they were arrested.
Despite their peaceful, lawful behavior the photo journalists were swept up and arrested with no concern by the police officers as to whether they committed any crimes.
"The arrest of a journalist while documenting political activity violates our country's freedom of the press," stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. "There are no justifications to arrest any journalists peaceably assembled at demonstrations."
The three Kentucky Kernel journalists are only a few of the many journalists taken into prolonged custody during the sweeping arrests by law enforcement this week. The ACLU of Minnesota has identified other journalists, bloggers and photographers from Rhode Island, California, Florida, Illinois and other parts of the country who have also been arrested. The photojournalist from Illinois was arrested with the Kernel photo journalists; he however was not released, and is being charged with a Gross Misdemeanor Riot.
"The freedom of all journalists, whether they report as freelancers or work for the NY Times should be respected and protected," stated Samuelson.
McIntosh, Matthews and Winn were released just prior to the end of the 36 hour hold period allowed by law. Though their physical freedom has been restored, McIntosh and Matthews have so far been denied the opportunity to continue reporting as their camera equipment has not been returned to them.
Even though they have been released, they were informed they could still be charged with a crime at a later time. The ACLU-MN is reviewing their legal options regarding their arrests.
The students and their advisor were represented by Matthew Lute of the Matthew Lute Law Office.