Three photographers with connections to the University of Kentucky's student newspaper were arrested Monday night at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.
James Winn, the photo adviser for the Kentucky Kernel, and Ed Matthews, a student photographer at the paper, were arrested Monday night and booked into the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in Minnesota on charges of felony rioting, according to staff at the jail. Britney McIntosh, also a Kernel student photographer, was charged with rioting.
A Western Kentucky University graduate and photographer, Nathan Weber, was arrested on a charge of gross misdemeanor rioting.
As of Tuesday night, none had been formally charged. That could come Wednesday, a jail staffer said, adding that several hundred people faced similar charges. A total of 284 people were arrested, according to several news reports.
The arrests came Monday after a planned march in downtown St. Paul. "Breakaway anarchists" who left the parade route caused havoc in parts of the city, leaving slashed tires, broken windows and glass bottles heaved at police, according to TwinCities.com and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Police used pepper spray, tear gas and Tasers to subdue some crowds.
Jonathan D. Woods, a Western Kentucky graduate and photographer for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette covering the convention, saw the arrests take place.
About 5 p.m. Monday, police ordered about 300 protesters to disperse from an area near Seventh and Jackson streets in downtown St. Paul. After multiple warnings they used pepper spray, rubber bullets and then tear gas to break up the protesters. Between 60 and 100 people broke off from the group and ran through the streets, blocking intersections, Woods said. Some threw sandbags and newspaper racks into the streets.
Eventually police cornered the protesters in a parking lot, ordered them to the ground and placed zip-tie restraints on them, including the photographers from Kentucky.
"These photographers were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Woods said. "They were acting responsibly as photojournalists and capturing some good moments, and everything went south pretty fast."
Brad Luttrell. the Kernel's editor in chief, said that the photographers arrested were not covering the convention for the Kernel and had gone with the understanding that their photos would not be published in the paper. That decision was made because similar coverage was not planned for last week's Democratic National Convention, Luttrell said.
He did agree to let them write about their experiences and publish their photos in a blog about photojournalism, linked to the Kernel's Web site.
"From what I understand, they went out there with every intention to be photojournalists and do good documentary work and in no way did they have any intention to do any protesting or participate in any rioting," Luttrell said. "I don't know how many other journalists were arrested. I don't know how they (police) decided who was who or if they just arrested everybody and decided to sort it out later."