More than 100 journalists were arrested or detained while on the job in the US this year - a more than 1,200% increase
- Journalists arrested or detained while on the job in the United States this year totaled at least 117, according to a new report.
- In all of 2019, that number was nine, marking a 1,200% increase in 2020, largely driven by protests in the late spring and summer.
- In one week of protests that followed the killing of George Floyd, 71 reporters were arrested while on the job — more than the prior three years combined.
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Journalists arrested or detained while on the job in the United States this year totaled at least 117, according to a new report by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
In all of 2019, that number was nine, marking a 1,200% increase in 2020, according to the report. The increase in arrests and detainments was largely driven by protests in the late spring and summer when the vast majority of the incidents occurred.
"From George Floyd's death in late May, through months of pandemic and election turmoil, journalists covering public anger at authority often found themselves targeted by militarized police forces," Kirstin McCudden, managing editor of the US Press Freedom Tracker, said in the report. "Anti-media rhetoric, embraced at the highest levels of our government, accompanies many assaults and threats."
In one week of protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis - May 29 to June 4 - 71 reporters were arrested while on the job, surpassing the number of journalists arrested in the US for the prior three years combined.
One of the most notable examples was when a CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, was arrested on live television while covering the Minneapolis protests over Floyd's death. In the footage that aired live, Jimenez can be seen being arrested as the camera crew tells police that they are press before also being handcuffed.
"Journalists should not have to worry about being arrested for doing their job, yet across the country police have disregarded their rights on a staggering scale," Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said in a statement.
"Despite scores of illegal arrests and assaults on journalists doing their jobs, we know of no police officer who has been criminally charged for these shocking violations of constitutional rights," he said, adding that they hope the report will prompt officials to take action.
The report documented arrests in 40 different American cities and found that of the journalists arrested, 43 were also assaulted, either during protest coverage or during their arrest.
In addition to arrests and detainments, journalists experienced physical attacks, border stops, subpoenas, and denials of access. The report found more than 1,000 press freedom violations such as these in 2020, while there were only 152 recorded in 2019.
The data was compiled and verified by the US Press Freedom Tracker, a joint project of Freedom of the Press Foundation and Committee to Protect Journalists. More than a dozen possible incidents of arrest or detainment are still being investigated.
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