U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

SC reporter arrested, banned from tribal lands

Incident Details

Date of Incident
January 14, 2023

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Arresting Authority
York County Sheriff's Department
  • Trespassing
    • Jan. 14, 2023: Charges pending
    • Jul. 17, 2023: Charges dropped
Unnecessary use of force?
July 17, 2023 - Update

Trespassing charge against reporter dropped

The trespassing charge against journalist Maggie Brown, who was arrested near Rock Hill, South Carolina, while covering a Catawba Nation general council meeting for the Post and Courier, was dismissed on July 17, 2023, the office of the York County Clerk of Court confirmed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in a phone call.

January 14, 2023

Post and Courier reporter Maggie Brown was arrested and charged with trespassing after being removed from a Catawba Nation general council meeting near Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Jan. 14, 2023.

The Post and Courier, which originally reported the arrest in a since-deleted article, wrote that Brown was in attendance to cover discussions around whether to cut ties with the operators of a Catawba-owned casino that is under federal scrutiny. That article is available for reference from an internet archive. Brown and Managing Editor Andy Shain declined to comment when reached by email.

Queen City News reported that tribal administrators denied Brown’s request to attend the meeting — which was only open to tribal members and invited guests — in the days leading up to the event. The News reported that approximately 200 people were in attendance.

The York County Sheriff’s Office told the outlet that a deputy gave Brown a citation for trespassing, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $200 fine, and released her. Brown left the Catawba reservation under a police escort.

The Catawba Nation condemned her actions in a statement released on Twitter after the incident, referring to her as Maggie Brown Driggers. The statement said that she had flaunted tribal sovereignty and disrespected their boundaries.

“Catawba General Council meetings are gatherings of Catawba citizens to discuss, debate, and ultimately vote on issues facing the Nation,” the statement said. “We are a sovereign nation with the power to set boundaries and laws on our land to protect and serve our people. This includes restricting those who are allowed and not allowed in our meetings.”

According to the statement, Brown has been banned from tribal lands.

The York County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a voicemail requesting further information.

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