June 1, 2020 – More than 100 journalists were arrested and assaulted by law enforcement over the weekend while covering unrest across the country, according to the Harvard’s Nieman Lab. Among them were a Los Angeles Times reporter who was tear gassed at point-blank range, a freelance reporter who was permanently blinded in her left eye after being struck with rubber bullets, and a photojournalist for WCCO TV, who was struck with a rubber bullet and taken into custody by Minnesota State Patrol. And millions watched CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew get arrested on live television.
“I was disturbed to see blatant attacks on our press freedom over the weekend. From Fox News to MSNBC, from Minneapolis to Louisville, journalists were among those singled out for simply doing their job — covering protests following the death of George Floyd. Attacks against members of the press, violence against Black communities and brutality against peaceful protesters have no place in our democracy,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss.
“Journalists serve on the frontlines as chroniclers of our history — raising up the voices of the voiceless and those who have been silenced for far too long by systemic racism.
“The scenes that played out across the country over the last week cannot be covered from a ‘safe’ distance,” Schleuss said. “Reporters and photographers understand the risks and don’t expect special treatment. But attacking them for newsgathering is an unconstitutional attack on all Americans. Police officers need to understand that covering protests and recording police activities are not crimes and reporting is protected by the First Amendment.
“As a union, we fight to protect journalists serving on the front lines to document history. Now, when so many of our members and colleagues across the nation face furloughs and layoffs, our communities suffer. We need more journalists right now. And we need more Black journalists and other journalists of color so that our newsrooms truly reflect the diversity of people and ideas that we cover,” he said.
“We stand for equality, transparency and justice. The First Amendment applies to all of us. Everyone has the right to speak, report and protest peacefully.”