Thursday, January 26, 2017
By Staff, Truthout | Op-Ed  “Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.”

Police stare down protesters attempting to block an entrance to the National Mall as they rally against the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation's 45th president, in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. Among those arrested are at least six media workers covering the protest, who are currently facing felony charges despite lack of individualized probable cause. (Photo: Victor J. Blue / The New York Times)

Police stare down protesters attempting to block an entrance to the National Mall as they rally against the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president, in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. Among those arrested are at least six media workers covering the protest, who are currently facing felony charges despite lack of individualized probable cause. (Photo: Victor J. Blue / The New York Times)

As members of the media, we are appalled by the felony charges that have been brought against journalists arrested on January 20, 2017 while covering protests in Washington, DC, surrounding the inauguration of Donald Trump.

According to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG):

“[T]he Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) unlawfully detained and arrested 222 protesters, bystanders, journalists, and NLG Legal Observers while subjecting them to chemical weapons including tear gas and pepper spray. This violated § 5–331.07, which prohibits kettling and mass arrests and requires police to give dispersal warnings. Despite the media’s focus on isolated incidents of property destruction, MPD indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone.”

Any unlawful detention and arrest should be condemned. The arrest of journalists, in particular, has a chilling effect on free speech and a free press, at a time when the new White House administration has openly declared itself to be in a “running war” with any critical media.

Other treatment described by the NLG is also to be condemned:

“Police held arrestees at 12th and L St. NW for hours, denying basic needs such as treatment for injuries, water, and access to bathrooms. Police then pepper sprayed, tear gassed and subjected other protesters to concussion grenades without warning, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and children. Most were held overnight, and all were eventually charged with the felony of inciting a riot, despite a lack of individualized probable cause. In addition, phones and other belongings were confiscated by police as evidence, with many protesters only having their wallets returned.  If convicted, the protesters face up to ten years of incarceration and a fine of $25,000.”

At least six media workers are among those facing a felony charge, up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

We believe it is essential that journalists and members of the media be able to cover protests, including disruptive protests that may involve property damage, without risk of arrest and charge simply for being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”

Our support for these journalists is unequivocal, and we demand that DC authorities drop all charges against them immediately. We condemn this blatant criminalization of journalism and will resist all efforts to control the press.

In solidarity,

Candice Bernd, Truthout
Samantha Borek, Truthout
Kendel Gordon, Truthout
Kelly Hayes, Truthout
Dahr Jamail, Truthout
Mark Karlin, Truthout
Mike Ludwig, Truthout
Joe Macaré, Truthout
Joseph Peterson, Truthout
William Rivers Pitt, Truthout
Alana Yu-lan Price, Truthout
Jared Rodriguez, Truthout
Maya Schenwar, Truthout
Britney Schultz, Truthout
Annie Stoddard, Truthout
Anna Sutton, Truthout
Lauren Walker, Truthout

Jessica Stites, In These Times
Jason Pramas, DigBoston
Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, The Media Consortium
John Knefel, Radio Dispatch
Melissa Gira Grant
James Trimarco, Yes! Magazine
Maya Binyam, The New Inquiry
Ava Kofman, The New Inquiry
Rachel Rosenfelt, The New Inquiry
Aaron Cynic, Chicagoist
Tyler LaRiviere, Chicagoist
Zach D Roberts, The Mudflats
Kit O’Connell
Leslie Thatcher
Adam Hudson
Susie Cagle
Matthew Filipowicz
Eleanor J Bader
Kevin Gosztola, Shadowproof.com
Brian Sonenstein, Shadowproof.com
Mark Hand, DC Media Group
Anne Meador, DC Media Group
John Zangas, DC Media Group
Jes Skolnik
Sarah Jeong
Andrea Grimes, Traitor Radio
Anne Elizabeth Moore
Adam Klasfeld
Lisa Rudman, Making Contact
Steve Pavey, Hope In Focus
Sam Knight, The District Sentinel
Sam Sacks, The District Sentinel
Allison Kilkenny, Citizen Radio
Jesse Hicks
Rick Carp, Rolling Stone
Suzy Exposito, Rolling Stone
Matthew Maitland Thomas, The Montpelier Bridge
Jody Sokolower, Rethinking Schools
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Erin Corbett
David Drum
Sarah Jaffe
Sarah Leonard, The Nation
Mickey Huff, Project Censored / Media Freedom Foundation
Mohamed Elmaazi, The Real News Network
Ziggy West Jeffery, The Real News Network
Dharna Noor, The Real News Network
Jaisal Noor, The Real News Network
Kayla Rivara, The Real News Network
Uruj Sheikh, The Real News Network
Gregory Wilpert, The Real News Network
Moira Donegan
Chip Gibbons

Orin Langelle, Langelle Photography

If you are a journalist or other member of the media who would like to add your name to this statement, please email: statement@truthout.org
For more information:

In Trump’s America, “Felony Riot” Charges Against Inauguration Protesters Signal Dangerous Wave of Repression, AlterNet, Sunday, January 22
Two Journalists Covering Inauguration Protests Face Felony Riot Charges, the Guardian, Monday, January 23
Four More Journalists Get Felony Charges After Covering Inauguration Unrest, the Guardian, Tuesday, January 24

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

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