Student Journalists At OWS Offered Free Legal Advice

Violent and in many cases illegal suppression of journalists occurred during several police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the past few weeks.

Claiming it was ‘for their own safety,’ there were reports of journalists being kept in a holding area blocks from where Occupiers were being evicted and arrested. Several journalists who managed to get close to the action were roughly shoved, beaten, and arrested as well, despite verbally informing the officers that they were members of the press and brandishing proper press credentials.

The risk of arrest is even higher for student journalists, as they lack the big name employers and credentials of many of their professional counterparts. At least four college journalists have been arrested at the scene of “Occupy” demonstrations while trying to cover news: two in Atlanta, one in Nashville and one in Rochester, N.Y. In Atlanta, college journalists from Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University spent a night in jail after being caught up in a roundup as Atlanta Police Department officers attempted to clear a downtown street.

That’s why the Student Press Law Center and the leading media-law firm Holland & Knight LLP are offering student journalists free legal assistance around-the-clock if they are jailed while covering “Occupy” demonstrations.

“In the chaos of a demonstration, there are so often misunderstandings and miscommunications between journalists and police that we feel it’s important to let students know they aren’t alone,” said attorney Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “’Occupy’ is a national story of special importance to young people, and young journalists are being heavily relied on to bring the news to the public, sometimes putting themselves in harm’s way. We hope no one ever has to use this service, but we think it will be reassuring for students to know it’s there.”

Student journalists with an emergency at the scene of an “Occupy” protest should call the Center’s hotline – 703-807-1904, extension 121 – anytime. SPLC attorneys will refer emergency calls to Holland & Knight volunteer attorneys who are on-call in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. The volunteers will work to help students who are incarcerated while covering the news.

Along with announcing the legal helpline, the SPLC is distributing a “tip sheet” for journalists covering “Occupy” protests or similar demonstrations, to help minimize their risk of conflict with police. The tip sheet is available at www.splc.org/protests.

Related Reading:

30 Journalists Arrested Covering Occupy Wall Street

Media Blackout During OWS Eviction

Top 10 Must-See Occupy Wall Street Videos

Image Credit: Flickr – david_shankbone

15 comments

Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer4 years ago

Spread the protest.

Corporations have over-powered our government which now believes that out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs is inevitable and necessary with expectations that the middle class should fall on their swords. It is the underlying cause of the financial collapse and borders on national security with the loss of our middle class tax base. Yet, this nation does nothing, not even demand it be restricted by whatever method. International businesses are doing the UN-AMERICAN activity of destroying U.S. salaries, U.S. businesses that hire in the U.S., and as an end result, destroying the U.S. marketplace while still demanding BUSINESS ENTITLEMENTS and protections for themselves.

Infrastructure spending and tax breaks will not replace enough jobs to keep up with the hemorrhaging loss of U.S. jobs from out-sourcing over seas. Neither party will do anything about it unless we begin grass roots efforts to protest out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs. If nothing is done we will deserve what we get and it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Lilithe Magdalene

I shall pass on the information.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

Thanks

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

Why do journalist need legal advice in a supposedly free country?

Randi L.
Randi Levin4 years ago

Good stuff---BUT a journalist is not a lawyer--hence may be offering false advice!

Cheryl Bresney
Cheryl Bresney4 years ago

A better world will only come by one helping hand offered to another. The governed must become the governors. Scary article this am in NYT; Krugman talks about the right wing thugs musseling their way back into power throughout Europe by using the same tactics the Grand Oppressors are using in this nation; weakening economics and job losses which they created are blamed on centrist and progressive parties. A lack of, or ignorance of, history dooms us all to repeat the tragic days of authoritive rule. What better way to return us to those tragic days than to suppress the press. Pray for peace..

John Mansky
John Mansky4 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Gene W.
Gene W.4 years ago

@Stanley, using a picture of Che and talking about freedom is ridiculous. The communist party has to be the largest of the political groups to remove the free journalist from the nation. Cuba is one of the prime examples of this, there are no freedoms in Cuba.

Stanley Balgobin
Stanley R.4 years ago

Put an end to the Police State tyrants suppressing free speech. We need all the Mayors of cities joining the Occupy movement. We need to vote the Corporate thieves, the corrupt politicians and neo-con right wing bums out. We need liberty for our journalists to cover peaceful demonstrations. We all need to take a stand today to save our country from total ruin.

Stanley Balgobin
Stanley R.4 years ago

Put an end to the Police State tyrants suppressing free speech. We need all the Mayors of cities joining the Occupy movement. We need to vote the Corporate thieves, the corrupt politicians and neo-con right wing bums out. We need liberty for our journalists to cover peaceful demonstrations. We all need to take a stand today to save our country from total ruin.