INDIANAPOLIS â€“ Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists are expressing great satisfaction that the city of St. Paul has decided to drop misdemeanor charges against journalists arrested while covering protests of the Republican National Convention.
Between Sept. 1 and 4, a number of journalists were arrested in St. Paul, swept up in police actions meant to quell violence during the convention. After arrests on Sept. 1 left at least four journalists in handcuffs, including â€œDemocracy Now!â€ host Amy Goodman, SPJ issued a statement that called the arrests â€œ â€¦ an unacceptable infringement of the rights of journalists and, ultimately, a disservice to the public.â€ Another wave of arrests on Sept. 4 prompted SPJ leaders to call on St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to drop charges against journalists who were â€œ â€¦ legitimately doing their jobs … â€
With the cityâ€™s recent announcement, SPJ is pleased that the mayor and other city officials see the value of a free press and the mediaâ€™s essential duty to objectively report breaking news.
â€œItâ€™s good news that the charges against the journalists covering the convention protests were dropped,â€ said SPJ President Dave Aeikens. â€œWhile it is unfortunate they were initially arrested, this was the best result after it happened.â€
Although the city is doing the right thing by dropping the charges, SPJ recognizes that there is more that could be done to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future. Ultimately, SPJ would like to encourage conversations between government officials and journalism organizations.
â€œWe hope we can talk with law enforcement about how we can avoid this happening again,â€ Aeikens said. â€œWe want police to be able to provide public safety and journalists to be able to cover the news.â€
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For further information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.
Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 249-3545, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 211, email@example.com