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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Legal advocacy group takes issue with student journalist arrests at Occupy Atlanta

During the police bust-up of the Occupy Atlanta demonstration in Woodruff Park on Saturday night, two student journalists were among the arrestees — one from the Kennesaw State Sentinel and one from the GSU Signal.

In an op-ed he wrote for a local Patch website — in which he quotes a letter he sent to Mayor Reed — Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, accuses the police of infringing on the rights of student journalists whilst giving preferential treatment to older, professional journalists. He says the arrests "reflect a need for greater police training in the rights of student journalists."

LoMonte continues:

I don't think there is any question that the Atlanta students were singled out for arrest, while the professional videographers standing right alongside them were not, because they look like ‘kids’ to the police. Being arrested and jailed is a traumatic event and it can have a serious ‘chilling’ effect on journalists’ willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to report the news. When a student — or anyone — identifies herself to police as a journalist, police should take a deep breath and inquire further, rather than, as the City of Atlanta police apparently did here, arrest first and sort it out afterward.

You can read LoMonte's editorial in its entirety here, but it seems worth noting that a post-collegiate CL photo intern was also arrested Saturday night.

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