U to host forum on media, police at RNC

A forum Monday will discuss the relationship between journalists and police during this monthâÄôs RNC protests where about 46 journalists were arrested. The main panel, which includes representatives of St. Paul government, law enforcement officials, and mainstream journalists âÄî will discuss why journalists were arrested while covering the protests, Sarah Bauer, executive director of the Minnesota News Council, said. âÄúWe thought it was very disconcerting that so many journalists were arrested,âÄù Bauer said. âÄúWe just wanted to make a contribution and have a discussion about why that happened âÄî what was done well, but how we could improve the next time.âÄù Panelists will include St. Paul Assistant Police Chief Matt Bostrom and St. Paul Deputy Mayor Anne Mulholland, as well as journalists from KARE-11 and the Pioneer Press, who covered the protests. The main discussion will be supplemented by a secondary panel that includes many representatives of independent media venues, Bauer said. One of the forumâÄôs sponsoring organizations, the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, repeatedly condemned journalistsâÄô arrests during the week of protests. Afterwards, its national chapter asked that St. Paul Mayor Chris Colem an drop charges against arrested journalists, which ranged from misdemeanor interference with a peace officer to felony conspiracy to riot. Coleman announced Friday that the misdemeanor charge of presence at an unlawful assembly would be dropped against people the St. Paul City AttorneyâÄôs office identifies as journalists, St. Paul spokesman James Lockwood said. The decision would mostly affect journalists who were arrested in mass arrests on Monday and Thursday evenings, Lockwood said, although it doesnâÄôt automatically affect those facing other charges. The forum is free and open to the public. It will start at 7 p.m. in the Coffman Union Theater. Check Tuesday’s Daily for more about the forum.