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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has issued the following statement in response to the arrest of two journalists covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo., Wednesday night:
“The unwarranted arrest of reporters from The Washington Post and Huffington Post in Ferguson, Mo., last night is outrageous and unacceptable in a nation that cherishes a free press,” said Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Bruce D. Brown.
“The right to record and report on police activities is a First Amendment right – and one essential to the journalist’s role as a watchdog and guardian of public accountability for law enforcement and other public officials. That it should be so disregarded, particularly after the journalists identified themselves as members of the press, is almost unthinkable – yet it happened, and happened quite violently according to news reports,” Brown said.
“In the coming days, the Reporters Committee and myriad news organizations will be calling on officials in Ferguson for some answers as to how this incident was allowed to happen. The right of the press to freely record and report on the activities of police as this situations continues to unfold must be respected by the town of Ferguson.”
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Founded in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to thousands of working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee conducts cutting-edge legal research, publishes handbooks and guides on media law issues, files frequent friend-of-the-court legal briefs and offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists. For more information, go to www.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.