The Society of Professional Journalists has released a letter sent December 6 by Lila LaHood, president of the North California chapter, to the Mayor and Chief of Police of Berkeley, California. The letter is in response to what the organization characterizes as multiple incidences of police officers attacking clearly-identified members of the press during the December 6 Day of Action protests in Berkeley. In one instance, they say a news photographer was struck on the head by a police baton, which can legally constitute “deadly force” and bring a special category of criminal charges if the victim dies.
According to the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, the United States ranks 46th in press freedom globally, with most of the decline (13 places in a year) due to new information about the state of surveillance of journalists in the US. They note “Violence against journalists, direct censorship and misuse of judicial proceedings are on the decline in Panama (87th, +25), Dominican Republic (68th, +13), Bolivia (94th, +16) and Ecuador (94th, +25).”
Here is the letter.
In a related action, Anonymous took the Oakland Police’s website offline by DDoS in response to their use of tear gas at the same Berkeley protest, which had been peaceful to that point.
Featured Image via Anonymous Press on Twitter