In an editorial that’s getting a lot of national attention, the Des Moines Register is calling for a criminal case to be dropped against one of its reporters, Andrea Sahouri, who was charged with failure to disperse and interference with official acts. Sahouri was arrested at a protest on May 31 last year. Her trial is scheduled for March 8. The Register puts it this way:
Sahouri, who has worked as a reporter for the Register since August 2019, was doing her constitutionally protected job at the protest, conducting interviews, taking photos and recording what was happening.
If convicted, she’ll have a criminal record and faces possible penalties of 30 days in jail and a fine of $625 for each offense.
The editorial also notes that the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented 126 arrests and detainments of journalists in 2020, most of them at Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
And though the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor may resulted in a massive increase in such detentions, there’s nothing new about it. In 2018, police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, detained a reporter during a Black Lives Matter protest in a transparent attempt to stop her from doing her job. Their actions were the subject of a 2019 GBH News Muzzle Award.