Journalists targeted by FBI in St. Paul
Mike Whalen and reporters sit, handcuffed, in his backyard. (Photos by Mary Turck)
By Mary Turck , TC Daily Planet
August 30, 2008
According to I-Witness reporter Eileen Clancy, an FBI agent came to Mike Whalen's house on Iglehart Avenue this morning, looking for an individual who was not present at the time. This afternoon, police broke into the house with guns drawn, detaining Whalen and the journalists for hours as dozens of reporters from all over the country stood outside, kept on the opposite side of the street by police orders. The six people inside the house—and one legal observer who came outside to try to talk to police—were handcuffed during the search of the house.
Legal observer Sarah Coffey answered reporters' questions in front of the Iglehart residence, as police looked on.
Journalists inside the home included Clancy and Elizabeth Press, a news producer for Democracy Now. Journalists outside included Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now and a camera crew.
Kim, who lives next door, voiced her strong objections to the police proceedings, praising Mike Whalen as "a good neighbor, a very nice neighbor for ten years. He has never caused a problem." She said anyone should be allowed to protest, though "I'm a Jehovah's Witness so I don't give a crap about Republicans or Democrats," but said that anyone should be allowed to protest.
Eventually, she invited the crowd of journalists into her back yard, where they interviewed Mike Whalen and Eileen Clancy over the back fence, as police watched in obvious, mute discomfort.
"They look through materials and copy materials, but you are not arrested," said Clancy. "If you sue later, the court thinks it wasn't a big deal, because you were not held very long.
"They cannot raid a news office without a subpoena – but they did. This is journalists' work product."
Police eventually produced a subpoena, similar to the ones that have been used in all of the half-dozen raids during the past 18 hours.
"These are pre-emptive raids," Clancy insisted. "Police are targeting people who are hear to protect free speech rights."
Eventually, Amy Goodman and a camera crew climbed over the fence. Police tried to get them to leave, with no success. Police on the scene would make no comment, saying that a public relations officer would talk to reporters They were unable, however, to say who the public relations officer was, or where that person might be found.
In the end, the police released all of the people detained at the Iglehart address.
At the same time that the I-Witness reporters were being detained on Iglehart, police followed, stopped and detained two other I-Witness reporters and a friend as they biked down Marshall Avenue in St. Paul. They searched the trio's belongings and detained them there until the raid at Iglehart ended.