Newspaper Guild Blasts Mayor Jean Quan Over Arrest of Reporters at Occupy Oakland

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Reporters are there to observe the story, not be the story
Plenty of people are unhappy all around about what happened in downtown Oakland Saturday evening -- journalists included. Hundreds of police in riot gear descended on a planned Occupy Oakland rally over the weekend, which escalated into another violent scene where more than 400 people were arrested.

Despite having press credentials, at least five of those who were hauled off to jail were local reporters covering the event, including journalists from the San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, the East Bay Express, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Incidentally, local reporters have now become part of the very story they were covering, prompting the local Newspaper Guild to craft this very blunt message to the Oakland Police Department: Back off.

The guild has written a letter to Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan, requesting a meeting with the two leaders to discuss the problem of Oakland hindering reporters from doing their job.

According to the letter, dated Jan. 30, 2012:
Although several journalists were released quickly on the scene, others were held for long periods of time, making it impossible for them to do their jobs. Numerous reports from the scene document officers ignoring reporters presenting their press credentials and admonishing them for not following orders to disperse. This despite the OPD's own guidelines, which stated, "Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.
"Freedom of the press is key to our democracy and must be vigorously defended. Arrests of journalists and other police interference with reporters and photographers cannot be tolerated," Bernie Lunzer, president of The Newspaper Guild-CWA, stated in the letter.

Read a copy of the letter here.

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Jon Humphrey
Jon Humphrey

No reporter following the OPD's guidelines should be detained. The guidelines are there so members of the press can make a living feeding their families, just like any officer on duty that night. Will these reporters be compensated for the loss of pay due to inability to report? No, instead they will have to report on the detainment, because it violates department policy. Reporters follow these policies to avoid detainment. If the OPD's guidelines are not followed, then the officers who violated department policy should be disciplined according to department policy. Anything less diminishes the importance and sanctity of the police department.Furthermore Freedom of the press is not just extended to news outlets. Many churches as a part of their church newsletter cover these events. They do not need or have "credentials." The churches right to do so is protected by the constitution. If they have designated themselves as press and are behaving accordingly, then they should be left alone. 

Every officer takes an oath to defend the constitution. The freedom of the press is the Police department's responsibility. I want to trust it will be protected. If it is not, then legal action will be taken. The last thing Oakland needs is to pay out more money to lawsuits, because officials can not follow their own policies. 

Lucy
Lucy

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Anon
Anon

Unless they were physically processed and given a charge, they were only detained and not arrested.  Which is perfectly legal to make sure they are who they claim to be.  I've never seen a press pass, how the hell am I supposed to know what a real one looks like? I'm sure that's the same for a lot of cops, so they're going to call your media outlet to ensure you are who you are.  And sometimes in the middle of a protest taking bottles, feces, urine, etc, they probably aren't going to call on the spot.

Tired of it
Tired of it

BULLSHIT. people make their careers off playing up these detentions. Suck it up and get on with your work - and sue the police afterwards instead of walking away with a nice article and some press freedom award.

Also, acknowledge the privilege that comes with a press pass - 354 people spent days in Santa Rita, including many who were denied medication by ACSO.

Victorsnotvictims
Victorsnotvictims

Although, we didn't agree with Mayor Quan's recent reversal regarding OccupyOakland, we were  willing to give her another chance to prove herself.  But this weekend, it became frighteningly clear, how  dangerous it is to allow this weak Mayor to continue, Now she is being used by questionable forces with nefarious agendas.

Meatsack
Meatsack

 

Who are the "questionable forces?"

This isn't just some strung together conspiracy non sense right?  You have names?

coppersmom
coppersmom

I thought only ONE was hauled off to jail..a mother jones reporter? You really can't call yourself a real reporter until you've been detained at least once..without whining. I though reporters were all puffed up about how they have this dangerous, risky job that puts them in harm's way to bring you the "twuth"...back in the day reporters covered rape, murder, mayhem, riots..and sometimes..frequently actually got detained..as in this case..very briefly..by law enforcement..they didn't whine about it..The newpaper guild knows that in about 20 minutes ..anyone can fab up a fake credential..What is the newspaper guild doing about that?  zilch.

Jon Humphrey
Jon Humphrey

Mam, no reporter following the OPD's guidelines should be detained. The guidelines are there so members of the press can make a living feeding their families, just like any officer on duty that night. Will these reporters be compensated for the loss of pay due to inability to report? No, instead they will have to report on the detainment, because it violates department policy. Reporters follow these policies to avoid detainment. If the OPD's guidelines are not followed, then the officers who violated department policy should be disciplined according to department policy. Anything less diminishes the importance and sanctity of the police department.

Furthermore, freedom of the press is not just extended to news outlets. Many churches as a part of their church newsletter cover these events. They do not need or have "credentials." The churches right to do so is protected by the constitution. If they have designated themselves as press,  behaving accordingly,  then they should be left alone.  I agree with your disdain for the events occurring, but your response is not well reasoned. You seem to be advocating abolishing the 1st amendment entirely. I don't believe that this in your intention. Every officer takes an oath to defend the constitution. The freedom of the press is the Police department's responsibility. I want to trust it will be protected. 

coppersmom
coppersmom

you are talking to a real reporter here..so stuff it.. I don't need your faux primer..I've been there..I've been detained when I wanted to get close..I didn't whine..shove your unreal expectation of trusty-feely.

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