United States journalists arrested for reporting on anti-Trump protests

This video says about itself:

25 January 2017

Several major international press freedom organizations have called for charges to be dropped against six journalists arrested while covering unrest in Washington DC on Donald Trump’s inauguration day last week. They all now face up to 10 years in prison.

RT America’s Alexander Rubinstein was among the journalists arrested along with protesters on January 20th. He has been charged with inciting a riot, the highest level offense under the District of Columbia’s public disturbances law. The reporters were released a day after being arrested, but still face court hearings. They could each be sentenced to 10 years behind bars and fined up to $25,000 if convicted. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for February and March, according to court filings.

In an official statement, RT’s press office slammed the charges against Rubinstein.

Read more: RT America reporter arrested while covering inauguration protests.

“The arrest and subsequent felony rioting charge against our reporter, Alexander Rubinstein, simply for doing his job – covering inauguration protests in Washington DC – is an absolute outrage. Such acts represent an egregious violation of journalistic freedom, and are particularly disheartening to witness in the country that positions itself as the global champion of free press,” the statement says.

“RT will apply the full weight of its legal team in support of our journalist and we are confident that a thorough review by the U.S. Attorney’s office will confirm that Alexander, who wore his press credentials at all times, was wrongfully arrested,” it added.

On Tuesday, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE’s) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, called on authorities in the US to respect the right of journalists to report on public demonstrations and uphold freedom of the press.

“The media has a critical role to play in democracies by providing transparency as well as accountability of the exercise of state power. This public watchdog function is especially important around the time of elections and during changes of government, including at the time of inauguration. As long as it is not proved that journalists have taken a direct and active part in hostilities themselves, their activities during public demonstrations should be left unimpaired,” she said in an official statement published on the OSCE’s website.

The official added that the rights of journalists are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, as well as by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil Rights, which the United States has ratified.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also called for the felony charges against the journalists to be dropped, saying the organization is “alarmed by the new administration’s repeated attacks on the media and blatant disregard for facts in the first three days of Donald Trump’s presidency… RSF calls on Trump and his team to stop undermining the First Amendment and start defending it,” according to a statement on their website.

A New-York based non-governmental organization called the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also urged US authorities to abstain from persecuting media workers, while calling the charges against them “inappropriate.”

“These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests… We call on authorities in Washington to drop these charges immediately,” Carlos Lauria, senior Americas program coordinator, said in a statement on Tuesday, as cited by Sputnik news agency.

Among the six journalists charged are Jack Keller, a documentary producer for the web documentary series Story of America; Shay Horse, an independent photojournalist; live-streamer Matt Hopard and freelance reporter Aaron Cantu, as well as Vocativ journalist Evan Engel and Alexander Rubinstein of RT America. Rubinstein stressed that he showed his media credentials to police when he was arrested, but said it had made no difference.

“I was hit in the face with a flash grenade. It blinded me for a moment and my ears were ringing for a while… By the time I was done being treated and I could see again, we were encircled by police and I was told that everybody present would be arrested. It doesn’t matter that I’m press,” Rubinstein said.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

British journalists condemn arrests of US reporters covering protests

Thursday 26th January 2017

BRITISH journalists called yesterday for “disturbing” charges to be dropped against six US colleagues who were arrested while covering protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration.

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet called on people to contact the billionaire bigot in protest and to express solidarity with the sextet, who face up to 10 years behind bars.

The journalists, including a documentary producer, a freelance reporter and a live-streamer, have been charged with a felony under Washington DC state law against rioting.

A police arrest report for five of the six journalists reads: “Numerous crimes were occurring in police presence.

“The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organising, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot.” However, no specific allegations have been made.

After appearing in court on Saturday, all six were released with further hearings set for February and March.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) warned Mr Trump against threats to press freedom and have also condemned the arrests.

IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellange said: “We strongly condemn these unfair arrests of our US colleagues who were observing and documenting the atmosphere following Trump’s inauguration.”

Ms Stanistreet said: “Journalism is not a crime. Journalists, including NUJ members, were on the ground on the day doing their job — documenting the wide range of events and protests linked to the inauguration.

“Arresting journalists is a disturbing move at the beginning of a new administration already mired in controversy, and we are calling on the authorities to drop the charges immediately.” The journalists deny any wrongdoing.

This 16 January 2017 video from the USA is called Noam Chomsky – How to Deal with the Trump Presidency.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Trump starts war on facts

Thursday 26th January 2017

THE arrest of six journalists in the United States for coverage of the massive protests against President Donald Trump’s inauguration indicates what we can expect from his administration.

The vagueness of the police report on their arrests — “numerous crimes were occurring,” “the crowd was observed enticing [sic] a riot” — make it pretty obvious that the case against the six is weak.

This ugly incident is clearly a warning, a signal to the media that the Trump government is no respecter of a free media.

Nor is it isolated. This week the new president also slapped a media blackout on the Environmental Protection Agency, banning its officials from updating social media or speaking to reporters.

An administration packed to the gills with climate change deniers is clearly unwilling to allow scientists to speak openly.

In place of evidence-based assessments we will enter the era of “alternative facts,” to use the delightful phrase coined by presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway. In this corporate fairyland nothing that extracts a profit can be bad.

Environmentalism is “out of control” and anything that restricts the ability of big business to poison, pollute and lay waste our natural world in a short-term dash for cash has to be scrapped. This is clearly dangerous. But we should not exaggerate the difference it marks from the approach of previous administrations.

It is true that Barack Obama accepted the reality of climate change, and was a supporter of the Paris accord which Trump once stated he would withdraw from.

But despite the self-congratulatory rhetoric of US and EU leaders, the Paris agreement was a load of hot air.

It contains no enforcement mechanism to ensure countries do cut their emissions (Britain, as Labour’s Barry Gardiner pointed out earlier this week, is miserably failing to meet its own targets).

And the same governments that signed it were simultaneously pushing corporate trade deals which would effectively prevent any action on climate change — whether because subsidising or taxing certain products for being environmentally friendly or unfriendly is deemed a distortion of the market, or because polluting firms would gain the right to sue any government which put their profits at risk.

The world is heating up and rising sea levels, increasingly frequent extreme weather events and worsening droughts are likely to spell disaster for hundreds of millions of humans — but the entire direction of US-led Western policy was making this worse well before Trump was elected.

Similarly, the liberal hysteria over “post-truth” news rings hollow when the corporate and Establishment press has indulged and promoted government lies for decades, from hiding the truth about the police riot at Orgreave through the Iraq war to the deluge of misinformation we are spoon-fed today on everything from the Syrian war to the Southern dispute to the leader of the Labour Party.

These caveats do not detract from the appalling nature of the Trump regime, or from the need for solidarity with the six arrested journalists as well as with women, immigrants and all working people in the US as they face attacks by a viciously reactionary government. But a left fightback against Trump and “his Maggie” Theresa May must differentiate itself from the clapped-out pieties of a liberal era that created the problems we face.

Tackling climate change does not just mean agreeing that it exists — it means tackling and curbing the power of corporate giants. And that battle — for the rights of humanity and against the power and privilege of big business — is essential too if we want to raise wages or end insecure work.

It is a fight against capitalism, not a fight against one bigoted individual, however powerful.

THE DOW CLOSE OVER 20,000 FOR THE FIRST TIME The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a 120-year-old index of 30 stocks, has risen since Trump’s election due to investors’ belief that Trump will follow through on his “business-friendly” campaign promises. And here’s a graphical breakdown of the Dow’s rise over time. [WSJ | Paywall]

16 thoughts on “United States journalists arrested for reporting on anti-Trump protests

  1. Thursday 26th January 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    Prickly president refuses to believe he lost popular vote

    PRESIDENT Donald Trump fired off another salvo of exclamatory Tweets yesterday, threatening executive orders to investigate alleged voter fraud, send federal forces into Chicago and build a southern border wall.

    Mr Trump indicated his inability to stomach having lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and claimed it was down to ballot rigging.

    He heralded a “major investigation” into people registered to vote in more than one state, people “who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).”

    Depending on results, the president pledged: “We will strengthen up voting procedures!”

    His own lawyers responded previously to voter fraud claims by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein by accusing her of relying on “speculation” alone to disenfranchise voters in Michigan.

    “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake,” they declared.

    President Trump targeted what he called “carnage” in Chicago, threatening: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime political ally of former president Barack Obama, has voiced his own frustration at his city’s crime rate.

    But he told Mr Trump on Monday that he ought not to be worrying about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, prompting retaliation from the petulant president.

    Mr Trump’s Twitter storm included reference to a “big day” planned on national security, including an announcement to build a wall on the border between the US and Mexico.

    Building a 2,000-mile wall along the border was a key proposal during the presidential election campaign.

    Mr Trump insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall, which he estimated would cost about $8 billion (£6.4bn), but Mexico’s president and senior officials have said that they will not fund its construction.

    The President has also hinted at taking action against so-called “sanctuary cities” where the authorities do not detain immigrants living without documentation.

    He wants to force them to co-operate with federal authorities in deporting undocumented immigrants.



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