Guild Tells Oakland to Cease 'Unacceptable Interference,' Arrests of Journalists

NABET-CWA, SPJ Also Sign Letter to Mayor, Police Chief; Seek Meeting

 

January 31, 2012

 

Police Chief Howard Jordan
Oakland Police Department
455 7th Street
Oakland CA 94607

Mayor Jean Quan
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
3rd Floor
Oakland CA 94612


Jan. 30, 2012

Dear Mayor Quan and Chief Jordan:

We write to object, once again, to unacceptable interference with journalists covering Occupy Oakland protests and resulting law enforcement.
 
On Saturday, at least six credentialed journalists were detained and/ or arrested while covering Occupy Oakland protests. They included representatives of the San Francisco Chronicle, KGO radio news, the Guardian (U.K.), East Bay Express, Mother Jones magazine,  and the SF Bay Guardian. Despite repeatedly identifying themselves as members of the media, two were jailed.
 
Some wore official Oakland Police Department press credentials; others were carrying credentials from the San Francisco Police Department or from their assigning publications or broadcast outlets, a customary practice among working journalists.

Although several journalists were released quickly on the scene, others were held for long periods of time, making it impossible for them to do their jobs. Numerous reports from the scene document officers ignoring reporters presenting their press credentials and admonishing them for not following orders to disperse.

This despite the OPD's own guidelines, which stated, "Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action."

Earlier this fall, many of us individually and collectively contacted the city to ask for a response to reports that plainly credentialed journalists had been detained and in some cases jailed covering Occupy protests. In another incident,  police grabbed at a camera belonging to an Oakland Tribune photojournalist, breaking off the flash and throwing it to the ground

Freedom of the press is key to our democracy and must be vigorously defended. Arrests of journalists and other police interference with reporters and photographers cannot be tolerated.

We therefore request a meeting with city and police department leaders to discuss the immediate formation of a training and monitoring program to ensure that police no longer detain, harass, or otherwise block journalists from doing their jobs by reporting breaking news in the city of Oakland.

If you have questions about this request, please let us know.


Sincerely,




Bernie Lunzer
President
The Newspaper Guild-CWA
blunzer@cwa-union.org
202-434-7175

Jim Joyce
President 
The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA)

Liz Enochs 
President
Northern California chapter
Society of Professional Journalists

Kevin Wilson
President
NABET-CWA Local 51
San Francisco

Carl Hall
Executive officer
Pacific Media Workers Guild
San Francisco

Rebecca Rosen Lum
Chair, Guild Freelancers unit
Pacific Media Workers Guild
San Francisco