Andrea Sahouri Charged with Crime While Reporting – Violates the Most Basic Tenets of Press Freedom
Ten months after a summer of racial justice protests, Des Moines Register public safety reporter Andrea Sahouri was put on trial for the crime of doing her job. Her arrest and subsequent trial for simply reporting on the protests of police violence violates the most basic tenets of press freedom — the necessity of reporting what are at times uncomfortable truths for government authorities. That’s exactly what Sahouri was doing — as a journalist it was her duty to be a witness and record history for the community, especially when it shines a light on the coercive power of law authorities.
As Sahouri called out to the officers arresting her, identifying herself as press 17 times, officers continued to douse her with pepper spray and put her in zip ties. While prosecutors refused to release footage of the arrest to her lawyer, they now claim that the video doesn’t exist because the arresting officer hadn’t hit a button to preserve the footage.
Journalists have risked so much over the last year to bring Americans vital information on both a global health emergency and unprecedented, world-wide mass demonstrations for racial and social justice. Reporters are unbowed by these risks. But they deserve to know that the American people have their back when they themselves are victims of police misconduct when they are covering protests about police misconduct.
The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, and Nick Charles for the Save Journalism Project:
“Andrea Sahouri is on trial for doing her job. A trial that should never be happening. And a trial, if it goes forward, that should result in a simple ruling – not guilty. It is a dangerous moment for democracy when the act of reporting on protests of police misconduct results in the arrest of journalists. At least 126 were detained or arrested on the job last year, a dozen of those still facing charges. Law enforcement possesses enormous coercive power that can be all too easily applied to limit and prevent the press from reporting on their actions. We have the First Amendment in this country precisely for this reason. The charges against Andrea Sahouri should be dropped, immediately, and the case dismissed!”