3 University of Kentucky Journalists Jailed at RNC

  • Published on September 2nd, 2008

[social_buttons]Who will protect us from the protectors?

Sometimes things get out of hand. And, usually, there is a group of people whose occupation it is to protect us from those situations. But as was the case on Monday night in Minnesota, the people who are supposed to protect us got a little bit out of hand themselves.

On Monday night, three colleagues of mine from the Kentucky Kernel were arrested while documenting the protests outside the Republican National Convention. Photographers Ed Matthews and Britney McIntosh, along with photo advisor Jim Winn were all arrested and charged with rioting. Matthews and McIntosh were both charged with felonies, while Winn was charged with a misdemeanor.

>>More convention coverage at RG&B>>

Nothing indicates that any of the three were actually participating in the protests, much less violating any laws that would warrant their arrest. The police officers subdued the Kernel staff members with the use of pepper spray and the threat of a gun, certainly unnecessary given that all evidence suggests that Matthews, McIntosh and Winn were not actually breaking any laws. Regardless, we cannot know whether or not they were acting inappropriately, as they are still incommunicado in the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center. If convicted, Matthews and McIntosh would face a minimum sentence of one year in jail and a $3000 fine. Perhaps the bright spot in all of this is that at least we know what they have been charged with.

More so than the arrest of colleagues, the problem is that this conundrum of excessive police violence is not new. From the unprovoked attack by a New York City police officer on a Critical Mass bicyclist, and the subsequent arrests of those documenting the unconstitutional and overtly violent police actions, to last week’s encounters outside of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, or even this week’s arrest of journalist Amy Goodman, police overreaction has become the expected norm in our society. These previous instances are illustrative that the phenomenon of police violence is not exclusive to the typically high security conventions of the Republican party, but instead have begun to pervade even traditionally liberal or progressive institutions. So, in the face of physical assault, felony charges and unwarranted jail time, how we reclaim our constitutional rights – not just to assemble and protest, but to document these actions as part of a free and open press? Or perhaps the better question is, can we still reclaim these rights?

Photo: Chad Davis via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

Taylor Shelton is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky. He earned his B.A. is geography and political science from UK in December 2008. Taylor has, among other positions, served as the co-coordinator of UK Greenthumb, the largest student-run environmental club in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He lives in Lexington, KY where he can be seen biking, blogging, walking the dog and spending unreasonable amounts of time on the internet. he also runs BlueGrassRoots, the progressive community blog in Kenucky, and blogs about Kentucky environmental politics at GreenKY
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  • Understand

    Thank you for writing this. I was there at the RNC and this needs to be talked about.

    People who say “you’d call the police if… (insert crime here) happened to you!” are completely missing the point. Excessive police violence and police breaking the laws whenever they feel like it is NOT OKAY. Clearly, the police provide an important function to our society, like protecting the people from valid incidents of crime. But that is not their only job! Apparently, they can also be unconstitutionally organized to behave like terrorists, attacking innocents and setting up a climate of fear and violence in order to repress free expression and assembly. It doesn’t *sound* like a democracy, does it? It doesn’t look like one either, from on the streets. I don’t know why we still bother to call ourselves one.

    People who believe that it’s okay for the police to jail journalists, to pepper spray civilians arbitrarily, to arrest people for wearing a certain kind of clothing or violently apprehend them when they are unarmed… well, first of all, those people weren’t at the convention on this day, and so probably assume that face-mask wearing protesters had guns and bombs and hated America, etc., which is far from the truth. Additionally, though, these people clearly hate freedom far far more than any well-organized, political, committed group like the RNC Welcoming Committee ever could. At least the RNC WC is using their First Amendment rights to try to express their disagreement with our current government in the streets, rather than hatefully bashing others on the Internet, hiding behind anonymity, and mindlessly believing in the people in authority, sans research. Read your history books folks… dissent from tyranny is what the U.S. was founded on!

    One last thing. News reports describe the protesters as violent, and use as support for this statement only that they damaged private property. A brick through a window is violent… towards a window? Yes, it’s property damage, but it is not “violent” in the way that shooting, tear gassing, and pepper spraying human beings who are unarmed and unable to move is violent. I couldn’t honestly tell you what the police were so frightened of during the RNC, but I can assert that the police were the aggressors that day. We can assume police are doing their jobs justly and exist to protect our rights… or we can see for ourselves what happens when they are organized to defend by all means necessary the established order, and not the people’s rights to life and liberty.

  • *

    A very one sided story here, which makes me wonder why no interview with the authorities. Could it be that would not fit with the obvious one sided slant to this report? When ever I read something that is obviously so biased I question the validity of the whole thing. That said it also makes me wonder what this bunch did to really get arrested.


  • Casey

    I took a look at and read the “News Item Ann Goodman: Why We Were Falsely Arrested.” Again, how about thinking about it this way. The government is suppose to ensure we have freedom of speech and by stopping these protesters, we ARE ensuring those speaking get their say! AKA Freedom of speech. THAT is the concept. The people who try to “protest” and squelch those speaking ARE the lawbreakers, and should be shot at with rubber bullets and thrown in jail for disrupting their speech. It is a very simple concept, people are ALLOWED to voice their opinion, people are NOT ALLOWED to disrupt or squelch others, and that is what protests do. There are two sides on these issues, people can RALLY and speak, people should not be allowed to PROTEST (opposite of Rally) and disrupt them. The best right we have is one not explicitly given, which is we can walk away and not listen to those who have the RIGHT to speak. If you don’t like the RNC, or the DNC for that matter, why PROTEST and get jailed, just shut up and let them have your say, you don’t HAVE to LISTEN. I have a right to speak, you DO NOT have the right to disrupt me! If you don’t want to listen than leave! Ok, long winded point 1!

    Point 2. As for comments like this “Bush has created a new Nazi regime. No one is safe as long as the police are enpowered to beat anyone who stands for the truth.”. These just come from people who aren’t getting things their way. the “truth”, what is the truth? Everyone has their OWN truth, yours is not “right”, mine is not “right” (wink wink), but they are our truths and we should BOTH have the right to speak our truths!

    Point 3. I would agree that journalism for all intense and purpose is DEAD! True journalism where journalist seek the TRUTH! However, unlike in 1984 where the “Truth” was put out by the government, we are in a situation where the “Truth” is being put out by hundreds of thousands of people who all have differing agendas and opinions. In the age of the internet with so much information available and so many ways to put that information out, accuracy and the TRUTH is currently at its worst!

    Point 4. As for nazi regime that you state Bush has created. OMG! Soooo freagin far from reality it is unreal. But if you keep pushing stuff like that and America keeps moving further to the left, you can rest assured, someday you WILL live in a nazi-like America and it will be run by foreigners that won’t shoot you with rubber bullets, but just shoot you! bye bye, gone! You will WISH for the days where you could stand up and talk! Get a friggin clue! Wake the heck up! Shall we become more leftist and like France!? Where they, for the most part, don’t even control their own country anymore. The only the Frnch have done right is they have built nuclear power plants and most of their energy comes from that.

  • Bill Rodgers

    Bush has created a new Nazi regime. No one is safe as long as the police are enpowered to beat anyone who stands for the truth.

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  • blah blah all i hear is whining

  • Casey


    The comment about Bush stems from stupid comments like "Welcome to the New Regime! Just a sign of things to come. thank you Dictator Bush!" That was posted here. (Not by you).

    As for going to youtube to find demonstrators at the DNC. Well, I didn't see it on TV, I would have to go to youtube apparently. So what does this say? It says that the liberal media won't show protests at the lib convention, because they want to make it 'appear' like everyone is in agreement. But 'every' little protest at teh RNC gets massive exposure (even during Sarah's speech they would rather show someone being escorted out).

    As for this "The violation of constitutional rights is completely unacceptable, no matter who is responsible". I agree, BUT there is an underlygin theme here, which is that instead of letting people talk (ALL people, free speech), some squelch free speech by either "Yelling Louder" or disrupting others from being heard. THIS is what most protesters do! If protesters really believed in free speech they would shut up and let EVERYONE be heard. Not yell loud so only THEIR message gets out, and damn the rest! So as for protesters, THEY are the one not allowing free speech! And if you aren't allowing others their free speech then you should be hauled away.

  • People, watch the Democracy Now videos of Amy Goodman's arrest and her producers' arrest. They clearly have the highest credentials you can have at the RNC, they clearly display them, they tell the police they are press multiple times. They are not rioting. They are not violent anarchists, nor dressed or acting like them. They are all manhandled and their press credentials disregarded. This is f-ed up.

    Where did all these trolls come from?

  • Jason

    "Peaceful protest is one thing – but don’t yell obsenities at everyone and block the busy streets."

    That's the point moron – peaceful protesting is like apologising about complaining. Violent protesting is reprehensible (except perhaps under dire conditions), but a protest should be loud, passionate, and even angry.

  • Mike-

    sorry that I didn't see your comment until just now. regarding press passes: if you look at the AP photo that shows Ed Matthews being sprayed with pepper spray, you can actually see him wearing his press credentials. I'm not certain about McIntosh or Winn. But it appears that the excuse given by the police dept. isn't that they weren't credentialed, but that they weren't on assignment. At least that is my reading of the statement- as it is obvious Matthews is wearing his credentials. You can get all of that info at the KY Kernel website, which is the first link in the post.

  • some quick points:

    KYDave- I am a Kentuckian. our student newspaper at the University of Kentucky is, in fact, called the Kentucky Kernel and has been called the Kentucky Kernel since 1915. If you'd like to check it out, you can: http://www.kykernel.com

    Casey- I'm not sure where you ever got the impression that I said George Bush, or even the Republican party, was wholly (or even partially) responsible for the arrests. My point is that it is a greater phenomenon that has permeated our society that I find extremely troubling. The violation of constitutional rights is completely unacceptable, no matter who is responsible (the Bush administration does, however, have a pretty terrible record on this). and you should also have looked into whether or not there were conservatives at the DNC. there were, in fact, plenty of ridiculous conservatives protesting at the DNC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7NyM1wOiuI

  • Mike

    Ok, the freedom of the PRESS.

    Certainly the press is free, and should also be unbiased. I often think that they should be wearing striped shirts (no not like criminals you dolt, like a referee) to remind them and those watching that they are to be UNbiased. As it is they are not required to wear the striped shirts, but they are required to wear a press pass (these three forgot to wear theirs).

    If the police are arresting a group of rioters the press has a right to cover it. . . WITH CREDENTIALS SHOWING. If you are in the middle of a riot, and have no credentials, you are subject to arrest. If after this you are charged with a felony, then not only did the police find you in the riot, they also have a good reason to think you were part of it, or, you resisted arrest (perhaps trying to free yourself as a part of the uncredentialed press).

    Bottom line – you want the people to be free and the police to protect you. Guess what, the police are people too. My brother in law has put his life on the line at least 2 times so far, once helping someone get out of an area where someone was shooting at them, and once breaking into a crashed truck and rescuing someone moments before the truck exploded. You want to talk bad about police, and then associate them with the current sitting administration. Well folks, you can say what you want (you would even if you did not have the freedom to do so, which yes, the administration, and John McCain support that freedom). But I do not see you throwing a fit about the "Fairness Doctrine" and the fact that it would prevent such freedom (unless you pay for the time where someone speaks and everyone turns off the radio).

    You are so double standard based and biased that you actually think it is what should be.

    Wake up, smell the coffee, grow up and for goodness sakes people, GET OVER YOURSELVES!

  • Casey

    LOL … What a bunch (not all!) of boneheads! Yea, like George Bush is sitting behind a camera pointing out people to arrest! Jsut like he 'caused' Katrina. If ANYHTING it is the Libs that cause these problems! You don't see a bunch of conservatives out trashing the DNC! We let them have their say and leave them alone. But when it is time for the RNC, all the friggin whacko dems come out to disrupt things! WHO is the one interferring with free speech!?!?!? WE let you have your say, now let us have ours! If the US evey becomes a dictatorship or you feel opressed, it will because of the DEMS and LIBS, NOT the REPS and Conservatives who want LESS government. PS: Get a hair cut and don't cover your face with a hood and you wouldn't be watched so closely! You want attention you got it! 15 seconds of youtube fame, now get your butt in the cell and hush up.

  • KYDave

    Taylor: do some research before posting your article. Kentucky "Kernel"?!? It's Kentucky Colonel there, smart fella. This just shows that you are unable or unwilling to do needed research before posting your article.

  • Politics, Police, Military and the opposed public are never a good combination…..its all happening in Bangkok right now too….again.

  • garry

    You are americans. Go shopping. Leave democracy to those countries that practice it. The storm trooper violence is the price you pay for being docile and subservient "patriots" for so very long. Imagine a people stupid enough to vote twice for Busch and then even consider McCain. Imagine a people stupid enough to vote neocon for 30 Plus years in a freaking row. The mind boggles.

  • Ure Kismet

    This is great! The same amerikans who ridiculed the Beijing authorities when they claimed that criminals who got in the way at the olympics were only arrested when they committed wrong-doing are now saying the same as the Chinese authorities about citizens who got arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (eg at home in bed according to Glenn Greenwald).

    The irony is delicious. I hope that amerikans succeed in their determination to bash intimidate and imprison each other. It saves the rest of the world from having to do it since every human living in that parasite country exists only because amerika has fed itself from the blood of millions of other humans about the world who were unlucky enough to live too close to some resource that amerikan corporations wanted to steal.

    Watching the inhabitants of that stinking, corrupt and greedy country maim and kill each other over the election of two people whose aggressive, destructive and self serving policies are virtually identical, is a joyous entertainment for the rest of the world.

    Keep it up. This is much more diverting than the trashy 'reality' shows which amerikans have polluted the planet with.

  • And I had to sit through Huckabee touting the "Freedom" that the Republican Party has brought America during the last eight years.

    And in Palin's speech tonight: Barack Obama's worried that terrorists won't be read their rights. So, the moment you're detained, you're guilty? Chilling.

  • Thromo

    The hatred, by some of the posters here towards the free press is amazing.

    Some posters here think that the journos deserve a beating because they were doing the job of a journalist, and covering a protest? Really?

    I have trouble believing that American Citizens would call for the beating and illegal detention of journos. I have seen it a lot on news stories of the conventions for the past 2 weeks. Which leads me to either two conclusions that I can see.

    1.) There is a large amount of the American public that openly wants, and is calling for, police state fascism.

    2.) There is a paid contingent of bloggers and commenters who are paid by the companies that profit from the militirazation of our police who have started swarming the internet over the past few months. If this sounds crazy, look up the news stories a few months back of the Pentagon paying bloggers to spam and promote their talking points.

    Either one, or the combination of both is extremely unnerving to me.

    I ask my fellow Americans. Are we not free? Do we not have freedom of assembly? Do we not have freedom of the press? Do we not have freedom of speech?

    What happened to " I don't agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it!"?

    Honestly, if you think it is a good thing that journalists are more and more being arrested and beaten for covering newsworthy stories, or that American journos should only print stories that support American policy, you need to leave this country because you obviously aren't meant to deserve the freedoms our fore fathers fought for.

  • Sully

    Welcome to the new order same as the old order I guess. Wasn't it communist China that banned all protests from sullying it's spotless image? Wouldn't want anybody to complain would we? But that's communist China, this is America, we have freedom. Right?

  • anonymous

    I agree with Chris, I manhandled and drug out of a city park in Dallas, Tx, for being near someone who was breaking a law, grabbed me by the arm, took my cellphone, hung it up, and kicked me out of the state fair. I wish I had the sense to get the badge number of the officer, seems to me like that should have been manhandling.

    With the new wave of less than lethal armaments cops have been getting more and more aggressive knowing they can easily put you in your place without use of gun and they exploit it.

    As always there are good cops and bad, and I'd rather have police than none at all, I just think there needs to be more mandated sensitivity training or something to that e(a?)ffect.

  • Greg Reeves: If you think people don't get arrested "randomly," you're living in a fantasy world. I hope you get beaten up by a cop one day for simply being in the proximity of other people like I have. Then maybe you'll wake up from whatever dream you're having.

  • Teenager

    This seems to be happening everywhere. I could probably go walking down my Main Street nowadays and get arrested for even holding my skateboard or blades. I personally think that the things that have been happening, like all these reporters getting arrested, starts some nation-wide movement to get laws put in place to protect the press even more. I've had my fair share of WTF momments in my 5+ years of journalism, and I'm not going to start following orders from some megalomaniacal chief of police, or country fro that matter.

  • Greg Reeves

    Hey…Hello?..wake the F! up!! Yea, I'm sure your journalist friends were just minding their own business, being good little leftist journalists. Look my friend, ordinary people don't just "randomly" get booked with a felony for being civil. Your punk friends got what they deserved…don't enable bad behavior…friends or not.

    G. Reeves

  • to clarify my own statements: by "nothing indicates" I meant the eye witness accounts, primarily those of Jim Winn's wife who was present. By saying that we cannot know for sure, I meant that those arrested were unavailable to tell their own side of the story, as they were in jail until midday today. If you would like an update, this is available: http://kykernel.com/2008/09/03/arrest-kernel/

  • Random Guy

    I hope they get REALLY good or perhaps even semi good lawyers, as reading this article, it highlights major issues conflicting with even the most basic freedoms of speech acts (sorry that is really bad grammar).Anyway a semi decent lawyer should get them out scott free but then thats my point of view after reading this article which is not necessarily the truth never the less I have now voiced my opinion and feel content with going to bed. Good night world x


    Ryan Clayton you hit the nail on the head.

    and Minnesotan… don't be so stereotypical.

  • Minnesotan

    I hope these inbred idiots quickly return the the rat holes they left in Kentucky.

    They should shower too.

  • Ryan Clayton

    In your article you say "Nothing indicates that any of the three were actually participating in the protests" but then you state "we cannot know whether or not they were acting inappropriately, as they are still incommunicado".

    Which is it? You wrote an article damning the police but don't have any facts to prove your case. Are you just upset your friends were arrested?

  • Munko

    You hate the police, but would cry if they didn't help you. Just a bunch of mask wearing pansies hurting people and property, which believe it or not is a crime.

    If you don't want OC sprayed or tear gased, don't hit cops, or their vehicles. SIMPLE AS THAT. They are taking it light on your buddies.

    Did I just break the pink panties code of this website?

  • Paul

    It was just a few short years ago when a couple fake camera's, and a shiny name badge holder that had a fake news website listed and the cops just walked right past you.

  • I'm sure this is not really surprising to anyone that has been keeping tabs on the way political conventions have been run.

    More average people need to be aware of things like this. Dugg, Twit and then added an excerpt on TNC (http://thenewscoverage.net/6295/)

  • Jams Jones

    Welcome to the New Regime! Just a sign of things to come. thank you Dictator Bush! All hail Bush! Not a lot unlike 60 years ago is it? Sad indeed.


  • Prophet

    The end is nigh, soon they will put us all in concentration camps and force rfid chips in our right arms, hands and head. Flee my people to the mountains away from Babylon so that you will not partake of her plagues.

  • KBO

    John, protesters have nothing to do with the press. Both the 1st Amendment and the 14th Amendment have been used to uphold freedom of the press. Even if the protesters were out of control, the press have a right to document it, certainly without getting arrested, and certainly without getting manhandled like Amy Goodman and the DN producers. Disgusting.

  • Does it not remind you of nazi germany…?

  • Police used to beat up Long Hairs in the Sixties just for having long hair. Don't we realize that fewer people will speak up, which is vital to a free society.

  • Mark Stevens

    Always carry a camera with you. Always question authority, always challenge orthodoxy.

  • John

    I was there for a time and many of these protesters were getting way out of hand. Peaceful protest is one thing – but don't yell obsenities at everyone and block the busy streets.