September 2017 – The Pacific News Media Guild is protesting the treatment of a freelance photographer and union member who was roughed up by police as she covered a protest outside a Berkeley City Council meeting in June.
Photographer Brooke Anderson said that she was in a crowd of protesters when she “was caught with nowhere to go.”
When the police told her to move back, she told them she was a member of the media and held up her press pass. “I’m documenting, I’m not interfering,” she says she told them repeatedly.
As the police closed in on the crowd, “I had my camera up to my eye,” she said, when an officer “pushed the camera into my face.” He also struck her arm, leaving her bruised on her face and arm, and suffering from a severe headache.
Carl Hall, the executive officer of the Pacific Media Guild, wrote a letter to Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Police Chief Andrew Greenwood, saying “it is inexcusable that one of our members was the target of this kind of excessive force.”
Anderson also asked for a meeting with the chief of police, but as of mid-September, neither she nor Hall had received a response.
The treatment is symptomatic of the special difficulties freelancers typically face. They can’t go to an editor to call the mayor or the police chief to complain.
“That’s why I’m so grateful the Guild has my back,” she said.
Ironically, the council meeting Anderson was covering focused on how police handle protests. Police arrested two of the protesters inside the meeting, and at least four were injured in the protest that followed outside.
“I thought it was important to be there to document,” she said.
And she did: Three of her photos were published in the San Francisco Chronicle the following day.