Police defend detaining of journalists

Photographer at protests
A photographer attempts to change positions without alarming the wall of police in SWAT gear during a protest rally in St. Paul during the RNC.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

St. Paul police say they had little choice but to detain people claiming to be journalists at disturbances during the Republican National Convention.

Police spokesman Tom Walsh says the proliferation of media outlets on the Internet has blurred the lines between the press and the general public.

Walsh said that made it difficult for law enforcement to distinguish between working journalists, bystanders and demonstrators during the RNC.

"There were a large number of media here. There were supposed to be about 15,000 media here. Some of those obviously were credentialed people that represented organizations like Minnesota Public Radio, etc. Others were simply bloggers who claimed to have press credentials and some sort of privilege as a journalist. And sorting them out is really not a police function," said Walsh.

Nearly two dozen journalists were detained during disturbances related to the RNC.