Sunday, April 29, 2012

Journalists detained in America-First Amendment?

Susan Brannon
19 April 2012

As of 7th of April 2012, 76 journalist in 12 cities have been arrested since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street in America. Reporters Without Borders rates the freedom of the press for countries in the world and the United States fell down to number 47 dropping by 27 points in their last freedom index report. 

In the video below on March 20th - 2012, the Chicago police were responding to an event which a young girl was killed in a shooting.  NBC reporters went to Mt. Sinai Hospital to cover the story and either the security police or police asked them to move.  They moved to the middle of the road onto the median.  When asked about the first amendment, the police or guard did not care.  The situation was recorded on video. He said, "Your first amendment right can be terminated if you create a scene."  "We have not created a scene." "Your presence creates a scene" He went on the walke talkie, and asked if he can arrest them, then turned around and said to the reporters,  "Pull out your arms, we're putting the cuffs on."

Amy Goodman a leading investigate journalist for Democracy Now, was also arrested.  I do not know the details of this particular arrest, but Amy Goodman is well known in revealing "untruths" in regards to our governments and corporate functions.

It seems to me that once the occupy protests started, the police in different cities were "testing" the reactions of the people and the government in arresting reporting journalists.  I say this because after the arrests, there was minimal coverage and little reaction from the citizens or the local state and federal governments.   If the reactions are few and the courts approve the arrests, then the police will feel that it is possible to continue ignoring the first amendment rights and law of the constitution of the United States of America. By arresting the journalist, they can destroy any evidence that is involved in civil rights and human rights or justice obstructions for the American citizens.

Disqualifying the First amendment is no little matter, once this can be approved and occur in America then the American citizens will loose just about any "right" that they may have.  Journalists, are to provide information to the public about events that occur in their communities.  Without reporting, then the media becomes more and  more censored and the population will have less knowledge regarding the realities of the events in their communities.  Another problem occurs and that is; induced fear.  Arresting reporters for doing their jobs, re-defines "what events the reporters can cover". Some reporters may chose not to cover important events that are focused on civil rights or activist protests, because they will fear being arrested. Not one journalist that I know wants to be arrested, harassed, beaten, put in jail or added to a terrorists list.  They have mouths to feed and bills to pay and in reality, only want to do their work.  I have spoken with many independent journalists and main stream journalists who are concerned for their safety while attending events in America.  The safety depends on the "mood" of the police and his/her mindset.  Normally, there have not been any warnings of possible arrest, they have been grabbed and then handcuffed.  The event could be peaceful, tense, it does not seem to matter.

I have some video examples (below) of reporters arrested while filming public meetings.  The meeting was not a demonstration,  march or protest but a simple meeting and the reporter was arrested.  In reality, he was not arrested for any reason, he was making a documentary film...plain and simple.

If this continues, it is possible that the Americans will slowly loose all rights and the country can easily lean towards  Fascism.  Fascism promotes political violence and war and rejects liberal democracy.  To achieve its goals, the fascist state purges forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.  For example, those in the occupy protests and then those who report the news.

The First amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

In many cases, the reporters are "reporting" in Occupy, they were not the "protesters" but recording the demonstrations through video, writing, or photography and were doing their jobs, this is clearly both the "freedom of speech" and "freedom of the press" while the protesters have the "right to peaceably assemble" All three rights in this case has been ignored.

 The video below was taken on 18 November 2011, at about the same time of the increased arrests of the reporters.  This was truly a peaceful demonstration of UC Davis Students on their campus.  They were sitting and chanting while the police dressed in their garb, stood in the middle of the "sit-in".

 As the protests continued throughout the winter in America, more and more reporters were either harassed or arrested while filming.
A reporter was pepper sprayed and had her camera taken away 12 January 2012:

Occupy Arrests: 
New York- three freelance reporters were arrested, they lacked the "proper" credentials for the City of New York.
New York -  November 15, 2011 - AP writer Karen Matthews and AP photographer Seth Wenig were arrested while covering protests at a property in lower Manhattan. During the same demonstration, Freelance radio journalist Julie Walker was arrested.
Oakland, November 3, 2011- Freelance journalist was held for 15 hours and made fun of her press pass.
Nashville - October 29, 2011 - Reporter Jonathan Meadlor was arrested with a group of protesters.
Richmond - October 31, 2011 ; Ian Graham a photographer was arrested on charges of trespassing on a public street while photographing the occupy event.
Milwaukee- November 2, 2011- Photoreporter Kristyna Wentz-Graff was arrested while photographing the occupy protest while the police were arresting the protesters and was grabbed and arrested.  The list goes on....

Interesting enough, the crackdown on the First Amendment has been going on for quite some time.  In 2009, The United states detained a Reuters cameraman without charges while he was one of many journalists jailed by the United States in Iraq.  Since 2001, the United States has jailed 13 foreign reporters in Afghanistan and iraq for several weeks on foreign soil.  The soldiers take the computer drives, camera and lead them away blindfolded and in handcuffs, according the the LA Times.  Ibrahim Jassam, the Reuters cameramans case ws reviewed by the Iraqi court and found no evidence to detain him and ordered his release.  However, America responded that he is a "security threat" and will remain in detention.

Arrested by simply reporting or filmmaking in public meetings

Josh Fox - was arrested 1 February 2012 appeared in court on 15th February 2012 was put on the terrorist list and censored by the U.S. government. see video

Pete Tucket and Jim Epstein- June 24, 2011 arrested for filming at a public meeting:

Related articles:
Stop the cyber intelligence sharing and protection act (CISPA)
Al-Jazeera told me not to report on Syria
CISPA and Journalism
Propaganda and Historical Events
Propaganda: Egypt opens the Gazan Borders
Where Lies Become the Truth
SOPA is not dead
SOPA and PIPA Supporters List
Censorship in the Worlds Largest Democracy
Censorship of Media: Libya and Lack of Information

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