The RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force is offering support to journalists in Charlottesville, Va., who may have been arrested while covering Saturday’s protests involving alt-right nationalist organizations and groups opposing them.
On several occasions this year, reporters covering civil unrest in places across America have found themselves swept up in mass arrests of protestors and, in some cases, charged with crimes merely for lawfully trying to cover stories that are clearly in the public interest. Those arrests are chronicled on the new U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a joint project of RTDNA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and about 20 other press freedom associations.
“If you are a journalist who has been arrested in Charlottesville, or if you work for a news organization that has had one of your journalists arrested, RTDNA can connect you with resources that can provide emergency legal assistance. Once legal counsel has been obtained, we can provide your local counsel with assistance from RTDNA’s First Amendment attorney,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Incoming Executive Director, who spearheads the task force.
Assistance may be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Above all, we hope reporters and photojournalists covering the Charlottesville unrest have been keeping safe,” Shelley said. “But we also know that in today’s extreme political and ideological climate, some law enforcement officers and other public officials who either don’t like the news media, or don’t understand the rights of journalists, have felt empowered to arrest journalists simply for trying to fulfill their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to gather and report facts.”
RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. Founded as a grassroots organization in 1946, RTDNA works to protect the rights of electronic journalists throughout the country, promotes ethical standards in the industry, provides members with training and education and honors outstanding work in the profession through the Edward R. Murrow Awards.
About the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force
RTDNA formed the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to bridge the divide between responsible journalists and those who don’t like, or don’t understand, the news media. People wishing to support RTDNA’s efforts may reach out to the task force by emailing email@example.com.