Cops, lies and videotape

The protests at the Republican National Convention led to a whole lot of arrests, but videotapes are forcing prosecutors to drop charges in hundreds of cases.

Published April 12, 2005 12:39PM (EDT)

Remember the lurid video and screaming headlines from the summer of 2004 -- all that the-apocalypse-is-upon-us coverage of the protests in the streets surrounding the Republican National Convention? It made for great TV, those scruffy protesters standing up to the squares from middle America, and it made for a whole lot arrests by the NYPD.

But arrests are one thing, and -- as the New York Times explains today -- convictions are another. In the seven months since the Republicans' convention ended, 1,670 cases that started with protest-related arrests have run their course. In 91 percent of them -- 91 percent -- the criminal charges have dismissed or verdicts of "not guilty" have been returned. Four hundred of the cases were dismissed based on videotape evidence that showed either that the protesters hadn't violated the law or that police testimony about their actions was simply false.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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