The arrest of any member of the working press at any time in any nation is disturbing. When it happens to SABEW members covering a public protest in the capital of the nation’s most populous state, SABEW considers it to be an outrage.
The Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) is offering this statement in support of two SABEW members who were arrested on March 4 while videotaping the protests over the decision not to prosecute police in the death of Stephon Clark. Scott Rodd, a staff writer for the Sacramento Business Journal and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee were arrested along with more than 80 protestors.
Clark was shot eight times by police in a March 2018 incident that drew national attention. Rodd, who recently moved to Capitol Public Radio, an NPR affiliate, sent SABEW the following statement: “My arrest while covering the protests on March 4 left me deeply concerned about the policies and procedures of Sacramento Police Department when it comes to interacting with the press. I hope the city leans into a constructive conversation about how to improve police training and policies to avoid similar incidents in the future.”
While the Sacramento District Attorney has said she won’t prosecute those arrested, the fact that a reporter would be arrested, despite carrying credentials has a chilling effect on the media.
At a time when the press is being attacked from many directions, this is not acceptable conduct. It is also a reminder as we observe Sunshine Week that First Amendment protections are extended not only the press but also to all Americans in matters of free speech and assembly.