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An RT crew, including correspondent Kaelyn Forde and cameraman Jon Conway, has been detained by US police while filming protests near the Fort Benning military base in Georgia.
They were taken into custody despite complying with the police demand not to come close to the gates of the base. Kaelyn Forde managed to make a call from the prison in Muscogee to which they have been transported. RT is now trying to find out the details of the incident.
Each year human rights activists gather at the gates of Fort Benning, which houses the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation (former the School of the Americas), demanding its closure. The institute has been training police and military personnel from Latin American countries, many of whom are said to have been allegedly involved in crimes against civil citizens and killings of foreigners.
Police have also detained a dozen protestors on the grounds of taking part in an unauthorized mass protest.
At least 22 had been booked into the Muscogee County Jail by 8 p.m. Saturday, Muscogee County Sheriff John T. Darr said. Their charges were not available, but authorities said most appeared likely to be charged with failure to disperse or criminal trespassing, both of which are misdemeanor offenses.
Among the arrested were at least one reporter and a TV photographer who was detained while filming the arrest of a demonstrator. SOA Watch officials were preparing a statement that said three reporters were arrested from the same foreign news agency, but the Ledger-Enquirer could not verify their affiliation late Saturday.
"It sounded like it was going to be a lot more organized than it was, and it got kind of confusing when the police stepped in before we were told they were going to," said Katie Wineland, 19, a Bluffton University student who attended the events. "I think it's unfortunate that people who are trying to voice their opinions nonviolently would need to be arrested, but that's just because I support the (SOA Watch) cause."
Tristan Call, a Vanderbilt University student, said his partner was standing beside him and was arrested while holding a blue Puppetista.
"We all know the risks that we are taking," he said outside the jail. "I'm very proud of her."
Four targeted journalists were among twenty-six people arrested today as thousands of human rights defenders converged at Fort Benning gates for the 20th Anniversary of the November Vigil to Close the School of the Americas, the U.S. military training school dedicated to teaching new terrorists to commit war crimes: torture, disappearing and assassinating.
Nonviolent civil disobedience action at Fort Benning gates was followed later Saturday by indiscriminate arrests and targeting of journalists for filming the police misconduct according to SOA Watch's Hendrik Voss.
Columbus Police arrested the journalists, including the TV news crew from Russia Today America, and unrelated bystanders.
When the rally participants tried leaving the vigil area, police blocked off all exit points.The police blockade was at the corner of Torch Hill Road and Ft. Bennning Road.
"After a few minutes, the police allowed people to leave on the sidewalk, only to follow them, indiscriminately arresting people who had neither committed any crimes nor engaged in civil disobedience," stated Voss.
An RT crew, including correspondent Kaelyn Forde and cameraman Jon Conway, has been released after detention by US police while filming protests near the Fort Benning military base in Georgia.
In the footage she can be seen yelling, “We are press, why are you arresting me?”
The RT correspondents, as well as the demonstrators, were charged with insubordination to the authorities, taking part in unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.
Activists from a protest movement claim that this year's crowd dispersal was the toughest and most irrational. One of the organizers of the rally, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that it was done on purpose in order to intimidate the protestors, with the message that, if the government can take such rough measures against the press, it can behave even worse to the activists.