Target: William Miller, U.S. Attorney’s Office Spokesman
Goal: Have all felony rioting charges be dismissed for journalists arrested while covering inaugural protests.
As President Donald Trump took office on January 20th, police in the nation’s capital greeted protesters and reporters alike with batons and pepper spray. Mass arrests occurred, and people were allegedly arrested without discretion. Among the over 200 detained were six journalists who are now facing felony rioting charges.
These journalists include a handful of producers, a photojournalist, a live-streamer, and a freelance reporter. All were present in Washington D.C. that day to document and observe the protests which coincided with the inauguration event. In spite of showing the police their press credentials, they were subjected to blinding flash grenades, arrested and detained for up to 36 hours. They now could face up to 10 years in prison or up to $25,000 in fines, in spite of the fact that their arrest records do not show any individual wrongdoing other than being in the same place at the same time as a number of other protesters who did damage property and throw projectiles at police.
It is alarming that members of the press would be detained and charged in spite of lacking evidence that they committed any crime. Sign below to demand that the constitutionally-sanctioned First Amendment rights of these journalists be upheld, and that all charges against them be dismissed.
Dear Mr. Miller,
As spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, you stated to the media that you felt that probable cause existed to support charges which are currently being held against six members of the press who were detained during protests spurred by the presidential inauguration. However, according to a number of media outlets such as Vocativ and the Committee to Protect Journalists, there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of these reporters and producers. They were simply there doing their job as members of the press, and even after presenting their credentials, they were still treated as criminals.
The right of the press to exercise their First Amendment rights is protected under the United States Constitution. These journalists had every right to document the events of the protest, and it is outrageous that they were subjected to arrest and now possible prosecution. The fines or imprisonment they now face are severe and based on what would appear to be unfounded claims. I urge you to dismiss these charges, and to protect the freedom of the press in Washington D.C. and throughout the nation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ted Eytan