So much for freedom of the press

A producer from Democracy Now! spent two nights in a jail cell after she and four other reporters who’d refused to “embed” themselves with Miami police were arrested Friday. Ana Nogueira described the night she spent in jail in an e-mail alert Saturday.

“Early this morning, I was sitting in a jail cell in Miami, cold, hungry and trying to ignore the cockroaches crawling on the floor of the cell. My clothes had been taken away from me and thrown out because they reeked of pepper spray.”

Tens of thousands of protesters from all over the United States traveled to Miami last week to make a public stand against the advancement of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (See View from the Fray, RN&R, Nov. 13). FTAA talks ended Friday, a day earlier than expected.

More than 250 protesters were arrested, including about 70 individuals who Friday afternoon were protesting earlier arrests and the heavy-handedness of the Miami police. Nogueira attended the “jail solidarity rally” as a reporter for the nationally syndicated public radio and TV program.

“I was arrested because I had not embedded myself with the police department before doing my job,” Nogueira said. “I was swept up … with about 70 others as we tried to obey an order to disperse.”

Other independent reporters were arrested, including Jeannette Lee and Michael Medow of the Michigan Independent Media Center and Todd Price, a Madison, Wis., journalist.

When Nogueira’s co-worker Jeremy Scahill tried to alert police that they’d arrested a journalist, he was told that it didn’t matter that Nogueira was a journalist, she “shouldn’t have been there.”

On Thursday, a video team member from an independent media group in New York City was arrested and his camera was smashed. Justin Lipson was pepper sprayed and his camera was reportedly smashed after he refused to comply with police orders to stop filming the police’s violence toward protesters, according to reports from the Miami IMC. He was charged with two felonies and, at last report, was being held on a $10,000 bond.

“The fascist bitches want to crush dissent, and we are not even allowed to document it,” said one witness in a story at the FTAA IMC Web site,