NEFAC, Press Groups Demand End to Police Attacks Against Journalists

Please note that similar letters were sent to officials in New York City on June 6, 2020, and Denver on June 16, 2020.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefac.org

JUNE 2 LETTER

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently joined 115 other press advocates around the country to demand an end to attacks against journalists covering protests in Minnesota.

The demand has taken on new relevance as reporters are now being attacked and arrested while covering protests in other major cities.

The protests are in response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Police have arrested, detained, and threatened journalists, and have physically assaulted them with rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, batons, and fists. In most cases, there are strong indications that officers knew the journalist was a member of the press.

In a June 2 letter to Minnesota officials, the groups explained that the right to report on police activity is “foundational to our democracy.”

“While we understand the challenges that officers face in policing during times of civil protest — challenges that journalists face as well in covering these incidents — the bedrock American ideal of a free press demands that we protect First Amendments rights even more zealously in moments of crisis,” according to the letter which was prepared by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The nature of these recent attacks on journalists is unprecedented. According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a partner of NEFAC, there have been 100 to 150 press freedom violations each year in the United States during the last three years. The Tracker is now investigating more than 100 that have occurred just within the last several days.

Any citizen — journalist or otherwise — who believes their First Amendment rights have been violated is encouraged to notify NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman at justin@nefac.org.


NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.

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