Kollection EIC arrested while covering Echo Park protest

March 25, 2021

At least 17 journalists were arrested or detained in Los Angeles, California, while documenting demonstrations near Echo Park Lake on March 25, 2021, as reported to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, on social media and in other news outlets.

As crowds demonstrated against the city’s plan to clear a large homeless encampment, Los Angeles Police Department officers declared the gathering at the park’s northern entrance unlawful shortly after 8 p.m., the Washington Post reported.

According to the Post, before anyone could exit, a supervising officer announced that everyone was under arrest, and officers surrounded the group using a police tactic called “kettling.”

Sean Edwards, editor-in-chief of The Kollection, an LA-based lifestyle brand with an editorial arm focused on music and youth culture, told the Tracker via email that he was caught in the kettle. “They began to arrest the crowd and press one by one,” he said. “They did not allow me and other members of independent press to identify ourselves.” He said he had his notebook and camera out, as well as photo identification with proof of employment and bylines at the Kollection.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Edwards said LAPD arrested him, detaining him and other journalists at the 77th Street Community Police Station in South Central Los Angeles. He said he was booked for a 409 violation for, according to Edwards, “failure to disperse at the scene of an unlawful assembly” and charged with a misdemeanor. Edwards said officers released him around 1 a.m. on the 26th and returned his belongings to him. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 22.

Around the time it was making arrests, LAPD issued a statement on Twitter that read, in part, “As a reminder, members of the media are also to obey the dispersal orders. Members of the media are to use the designated media viewing area.”

At around 1 a.m. on March 26, the LAPD posted another statement, specifically addressing the detainments of members of the press.

“An unlawful assembly was declared by the Incident Commander after the unlawful activity of individuals threatened the safety of the officers and all those present,” the statement read. According to the statement, police declared the gathering unlawful in part because protesters were shining strobe lights at police, which could “cause significant injury to the eyes.”

The statement said members of the press were directed to identify themselves and relocate to a media area about 350 feet away from the crowd.

The LAPD statement noted that as individuals inside the kettle were detained, police officers “learned that several credentialed and non-credentialed members of the media were part of the group. Members from the Department’s Media Relations Division were summoned to assist in identifying these individuals and they were released at scene without being arrested.”

The Los Angeles Police Department, which accepts requests for comment only via email, did not respond to the Tracker’s request for further comment.

The Tracker documents all arrests separately. Find all documented press freedom violations from the Echo Park Lake protests here.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]

April 7, 2021 Update

Sean Edwards, editor-in-chief of The Kollection, an LA-based lifestyle brand with an editorial arm focused on music and youth culture, was one of at least 19 journalists detained by police while documenting protests near Echo Park Lake on March 25, 2021. After police surrounded the crowd in a technique called “kettling,” they announced everyone was under arrest and began restraining people.

Edwards told the Tracker that though Los Angeles Police officers allowed other members of the press to present their credentials and be let out of the kettle, officers did not allow him or other independent journalists to identify themselves. He was placed under arrest and transported to the 77th Street Community Police Station in South Central Los Angeles, where he was processed and charged with failure to disperse.

On April 7, Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, told the Committee to Protect Journalists — a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker — that the office had not received cases concerning Edwards or the seven other journalists who received citations on March 25.

When reached for comment over the phone, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the Tracker that department policy is not to discuss arrests once paperwork has been filed. The spokesperson did not respond to further requests to confirm details about this arrest, including if any paperwork had been filed.

Edwards told the Tracker via email on April 27 that he had not received any notification indicating that the charges had been dropped.

“As far as I know I am still expecting to appear in court,” Edwards said.

Despite the lack of communication to the journalists involved, and barring further information, the Tracker is listing the charges against Edwards as “dropped” based on the lack of paperwork filed.

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