U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Let It Be Warm | Our June 2019 Newsletter

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Published On
June 3, 2019

A snapshot of categories from January through the end of May 2019

— U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the U.S.

May Day, Portland, May Day

Even though media in the area reported May 1 protests as fairly uneventful, one independent journalist filed assault charges following May Day protests in Portland, Oregon, bringing our tally to least six journalists who have been assaulted while covering Antifa and far-right protests in that city in the course of one year.

From being tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed or hit in the leg with “less-lethal” rounds by the police, to being hit in the head with a water bottle by protesters, Portland protests have become a dangerous beat.

Read those six cases here, which are tracked under our Physical Attack category and have been filtered for the city of Portland and the tag of protests. (If you want to use our filters in your work and need clarification or guidance, hit me up).

And be safe out there, Portland.

Equipment Seizures And Sledgehammers

On May 10, stringer Bryan Carmody awoke to San Francisco police using sledgehammers to try to open his front gate. He opened it for them, then spent more than five hours in handcuffs while police used a search warrant to raid his house and seize his equipment. The entire incident has amassed great scrutiny about state shield laws, the use of search warrants, and raised serious First Amendment concerns. Two weeks after the raid San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott issued an apology.

Our partner (and home base-organization) Freedom of the Press Foundation noted that while an apology is a good place to start, the list of unanswered questions is long.

At the Tracker, we documented the raid under two categories: Equipment Search and Seizure and Arrest/Criminal Charge. On Friday, the news broke that the police department had also obtained a warrant to search Carmody’s phone records prior to the home raid. We’ll be tracking that warrant under the Subpoena/Legal Orders category.

It Goes With(Out) Saying

We can’t talk about the month of May without bringing up Julian Assange, who on the 23rd was indicted on 18 charges, which included 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act.

At the Tracker, we’ve been updating the case in our Other category, which is where we collect incidents of high interest that may not fall neatly into another category. Assange is under arrest in the United Kingdom, but not technically by U.S. authorities. Yet he’s also been indicted by the Trump Justice Department under charges that press freedom groups have warned threaten to criminalize national security journalism in the United States.

The Trump administration has begun the process of attempting to extradite Assange, and we’ll be following the case closely as it develops.

Spreading the Word and a Team Welcome

In May, I took the train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to attend the Collaborative Journalism Summit and present on the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. It’s an impressive annual gathering of news organizations from all over the world working “across the aisles” to amplify reporting projects and resources. Like those collaborations, we at the Tracker rely on a support system to create this database.

Send us tips about potential press freedom violations to [email protected], submit through this link or email me directly: kirstin[at]freedom.press.

This month, I’ll be in Houston for the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, so please say hello if you’re braving the Texas summer heat.

Like warm weather, another thing that makes me happy is increasing the capacity of the Tracker. To that end, this month we welcomed a new reporter, Stephanie Sugars. Stephanie recently finished her master’s in journalism and international relations at NYU and was previously a research assistant with the Committee to Protect Journalists. Find her on email at Stephanie[at]freedom.press and online at [at]Stephanie_Alena.

Managing Editor, USPFT

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Courtesy Tara O'Neill

Bridgeport, Connecticut, police line up in response to a protest around the two-year anniversary of the shooting death of Jayson Negron. Reporter Tara O’Neill was detained and 11 others were arrested and charged during the protest. Find this and other cases like it in our Arrest/Criminal Charge category.

— Courtesy Tara O'Neill