(Author Note: This article is second in series on Denmark relations with USA. No. 1
Reporters and camera crews covering the uprising against racism and police brutality are being attacked by police, mainly, in unprecedented numbers in the US.
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), a non-governmental organization, which seeks to defend free press and empower public-interest journalism, keeps track of violence used against the trade. Its president is Edward Snowden. Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras are also on the board of directors.
In its first three years, PFT documented 400 occasions in which reporters had been attacked while doing their job. Violent curtailments of press freedom occurred the same number of times, 400, in just two weeks of the uprising in the U.S. Eighty percent caused by police. About 100 reporters and photographers have been physically attacked mainly by police; 100 attacked with tear gas or pepper spraying, and nearly the same by rubber bullets or other projectiles. Scores of journalist equipment (cameras) damaged.
Reporters/photographers have been attacked in 64 cities, in 34 states. Linda Tirado is one of them. She was blinded in her left eye by a Minneapolis policeman’s tracer round.
Not only US media personnel are assaulted . So are many foreign reporters as well. Some Scandinavian journalists are among them. Civil liberties organizations have lodged complaints against police departments, local/state governments and the federal government. The Danish Journalist Federation (DJ) has asked the Danish government to speak out.
“We usually see this [treatment] in all sorts of scoundrel states. It is just fierce that it comes so close to us, because [USA] is a land we consider as a democracy that has a free press as a cornerstone …I hope the Danish government will join others in putting pressure on the American [government],” stated Tine Johansen, DJ chairwoman, to the Danish media, in early June.
Johansen also said President Trump’s reaction to police brutality against the media “is outrageous.”
Trump tweeted, “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy…they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda…”
Danish journalists’ support for colleagues under attack were joined by two of three support parties to the minority Social Democrat (SD) government. While the Socialist Party was silent, the Red/Green party and Radical Liberals want the government to act. A spokesperson for Red/Greens stated that the Secretary of State must “come in the fight and clearly condemn the American president’s reaction to this, and say that the media must have free access and be protected,”
After a week of silence to this critique, the SD Secretary of State, Jeppe Kofod, still would not be interviewed or speak directly to the media. He prefers Facebook:
“It is only the USA itself that can and shall handle the current situation,” he said. “It is not surprising that the diplomatic commentaries about the actual situation primarily come from countries such as Iran, Russia and China, which are in intense conflicts with the USA. That fire shall Denmark not stoke.”
Kristian Madsen is a political commentator who wrote PR for the former Social Democrat chairwoman, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, before she became prime minister. He recently compared Kofod’s lack of critique of Denmark’s key ally with the SD leadership’s reaction during the US’s aggressive war against Southeast Asians. No comment—any criticism would aid the then Soviet Union.
It is one thing to dismiss these “scoundrel” states as some US and Danish politicians call Iran, Russia and China, yet Kofod also ignores Western allies that criticize the US for its brutality against not only black people, and protestors generally, but also against media workers covering protests.
Germany’s Secretary of State Heiko Maas criticized the US for not supporting journalists on the job. He called the peaceful protests “more than legitimate”, and called on US police departments and government to protect journalists covering them. Germans from Deutsche Welle (DW) media were among those shot at with rubber bullets in Minneapolis while reporting live. Police forced them to stop filming.
The same occurred to an Australian TV crew attacked by police with rubber bullets in Washington DC. A policeman is filmed hitting the cameraman with a baton in his stomach making him keel over while holding fast to his expensive equipment. The always-faithful US supporter Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, though, lashed out at this brutality and called on the US to protect freedom of the press.
Germany’s PM Angela Merkel and Britain’s PM Boris Johnson also made critical comments about these attacks on journalists.
The only sign of inadvertent “concern” emanating from the Danish government though was its signing of a mild statement made by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE wrote, “We are concerned about incidents and attacks by police and demonstrators against journalists and media workers…the role of a free press must be safeguarded at all times and journalists must be free to report without facing violence, arrest or intimidation.”
(I read the OSCE statement in a Danish newspaper, which dated the statement June 4. When I went into OSCE news releases for that date and all others in June I found nothing. Is it possible it got deleted?)
Kofod still will not speak to the media but he wrote a statement: “The OSCE is the right forum” for any statement concerning the United States-demonstrations-media. “The statement also expressed trust that American officials will provide for the rule of law.”
The matter of police brutality “shall not be a foreign policy battleground”, Kofod concluded.
In a June 9 commentary, Kristian Madsen wrote that Denmark’s secretary of state “often decays to diplomacy’s empty phrases [and] risks becoming an indifferent speaking suit.”
I could imagine that if Joe Biden becomes the next United States president as the lesser of two evils, he might appoint an avid supporter of Denmark’s Social Democrats to a cabinet post, perhaps even Secretary of State. I hope my coverage of Social Democratic anti-socialist and US-servile Danish governments can enlighten readers, some of whom might just explain the Danish reality to Bernie Sanders.
RON RIDENOUR is a US journalist and anti-war activist living in Denmark. He is a new member of www.thiscantbehappening.net His books, “The Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert” and ‘Winding Brook Stories’ are available at Amazon and Lulu. His other work can be found at ronridenour.com; firstname.lastname@example.org