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Our November 2021 Newsletter

November 30, 2021

Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the United States. Find archived editions here, and get this newsletter direct in your inbox by signing up here.

2021 Arrest Report

Tracker reporter Kio Herrera has pulled together an analysis of an entire year’s worth of arrests and detainments of journalists for our 2021 arrest report:

2020 was an unprecedented year for arrests of journalists, and many expected the number to drop to normal levels in 2021, Instead, the 56 journalists arrested or detained documented this year nearly equals the total number of journalists arrested in 2017, 2018 and 2019 — combined.

I highly suggest you read the report to understand the trends — protests and kettles feature heavily again in 2021 — and take a look at what’s ahead for the seven journalists still facing charges.

And ICYMI last year, our 2020 arrest report was published while we were still working to document the year’s incredible backlog. We have since captured 142 arrests or detainments of journalists in 2020.

Journalists were arrested or detained in 11 cities throughout 2021, with mass arrests occurring in California and Minnesota. Hover over the map to explore each city’s incidents. For an in-depth look at the year, read the report.

Court TV

I’m not a court reporter, but like many of us, I’ve been watching a seemingly endless parade of trials. So much of what makes front-page news relates to the work we do here at the Tracker.

I followed the Kenosha, Wisconsin, trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, until Nov. 19, when he was acquitted of first-degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges for killing two men and wounding a third in August 2020.

At that time, Kenosha was the site of heightened Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black resident, during a summer of ongoing civil unrest that followed the May death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minnesota.

In response to the jury verdict, protests broke out or were planned in multiple cities across the United States, including Kenosha, Dallas, Chicago, New York and Portland. The Tracker documented three journalists assaulted while covering the Rittenhouse verdict protests, all in Portland.

I followed the great reporting by KCUR and The Kansas City Star around the exoneration of Kevin Strickland, a Black man, of a triple homicide conviction after 43 years in a Missouri jail. I followed as a former KC journalist, because this man has been jailed the entirety of my life and because some of the evidence that overturned his conviction — in addition to an eyewitness recantation and his insistence of innocence for more than four decades — brought home for me the importance of diverse representation in the judicial system.

The same day Strickland went free in the Midwest — Nov. 23 — a Georgia jury began deliberations in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man shot to death in February 2020. On the second day of deliberations, the jury found three men, all white, guilty of murder and other charges. Arbery’s death, and the graphic video that accompanied it, helped fuel widespread demonstrations and unrest across the country in the spring and summer of 2020.

From 2020 into 2021, the Tracker documented more than 1000 incidents — including more than 600 assaults and 150 arrests — of journalists while reporting from Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

Also on the 23rd, a jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, found the organizers of a white nationalist rally in 2017, Unite the Right, partially responsible for the violence that occurred there, including the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died when a car rammed into a group of counterprotesters.

Across those several days in August 2017, the Tracker documented four journalists assaulted while covering the marches in Charlottesville and Richmond.

Gratitude and Giving

The end of November is here. There is more than one day on which we give thanks, and I really am grateful for so much, not the least of which is the privilege of this position. As you contemplate your end-of-year charitable givings, please consider a donation to the Tracker. Your support makes this work possible.

Best,
Kirstin McCudden
Managing Editor, U.S. Press Freedom Tracker