INDIANAPOLIS - Six weeks after the city of Saint Paul, Minn., announced it would not pursue charges against journalists arrested during the Republican National Convention, the city is asking for the help of media outlets and journalism-advocacy organizations in spreading the word to affected journalists.
The Minnesota chapter of SPJ, which has worked closely with the city to resolve the incident and its many lingering questions, crafted the following alert to help inform those arrested that they need to contact the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office. Contact information for the city is provided in the below statement.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.
MINNESOTA SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS ALERT TO JOURNALISTS:
On September 19, 2008, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office announced that journalists who were cited for being present at an unlawful assembly during the Republican National Convention would not be subject to prosecution.
Since this announcement, the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office has reviewed cases involving journalists to confirm that the individual cited was, in fact, a journalist (defined broadly) and that there were no specific allegations beyond being present at an unlawful assembly. The Saint Paul City Attorney's Office has declined prosecution for all individuals meeting these criteria.
So far about thirty-five journalist cases have been identified and reviewed by the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office. At the request of Saint Paul City Attorney John Choi, the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists encourages any journalist who was cited for being present at an unlawful assembly during the Republican National Convention to contact the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office to ensure that you are identified as a journalist and that your case is handled consistent with the announced policy. Based upon media accounts, we believe that there may be more journalists who were arrested but not identified as such.
You (or your attorney) are encouraged to contact the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office by contacting Deputy City Attorney Therese Skarda by telephone (651) 266-8740 or by fax (651) 298-5532. You will need to provide your (1) full name, address and date of birth, (2) case number, (3) date of arrest and (4) verifiable information indicating that you are a journalist.
If you fall within the announced policy, the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office will decline to prosecute you and will provide you a letter confirming the same.