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Society of Professional Journalists Condemns Arrests of Journos Covering #OWS

The Society of Professional Journalists has officially condemned the arrests of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street protests, and called upon New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city leaders to drop all charges against reporters who were simply doing their jobs. In a release, SPJ President John Ensslin notes that at least six journalists have been detained or arrested across the country while covering these protests. He does not include cartoonist Susie Cagle in his list–who was arrested by Oakland police while covering protests in that city and told if she was arrested again she would be charged with a felony.

Full SPJ statement after the jump.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists calls on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city administrators across the country to drop charges against journalists arrested while covering the Occupy Wall Street and related protests.

According to The Associated Press, at least six journalists have been arrested or detained while covering the protests in New York City and Chapel Hill, N.C. Reporters have also been arrested in Atlanta, Nashville, Milwaukee and Richmond, Va.

SPJ calls for all charges against these journalists to be dropped and for greater care by police to avoid arresting or otherwise obstructing journalists who are simply and clearly doing their jobs.

In these recent instances, the journalists were either wearing press credentials or explained to police that they were reporters covering the protests. They were clearly exercising the constitutional right of a free press.

“We know that as protests escalate it may be difficult for police to distinguish bystanders from participants, but it is clear now that many journalists have been erroneously arrested without cause,” SPJ President John Ensslin said. “These errors must be rectified immediately.”

(Read Ensslin’s Nov. 15 blog post about arrests of journalists doing their jobs.)

As a free speech and free press advocate, SPJ defends the rights of journalists and the public to seek information in the public interest. Most recently, Ensslin wrote to police chiefs in Atlanta and Milwaukee urging the dismissal of all charges against journalists arrested while covering those cities’ Occupy protests.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.

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