Huge rise in attacks and arrests of journalists in 2020 – Deadline

The Journalists’ Committee for Press Freedom says attacks on journalists and arrests of journalists increased sharply over the past year, mainly due to assaults by police as media covered the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd.

RCFP, along with other media organizations, compiled the figures for an annual report analysis of data from the US Press Freedom Tracker, launched in 2017.

The report showed that there were more than 438 physical assaults on journalists during the year, a figure that is more than three times the number of attacks reported in the past three years combined. Journalists have been arrested or charged 139 times, 15 times more than in 2019.

The vast majority of attacks took place during Black Lives Matter protests, and 16 attacks took place during protests related to the 2020 presidential election. RCFP said law enforcement was responsible for 80% of the attacks. 400 assaults during Black Lives Matter protests. “At least 195 of these journalists appear to have been deliberately targeted by the police,” the group said.

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“The violence reached its peak during the summer, affecting journalists in the industry, from freelancers and photographers to traditional videographers and journalists,” the group said. “Collectively, their accounts told a story of overly aggressive policing that violated fundamental First Amendment rights.”

As for the arrests, no journalist has been convicted of any crimes, but a journalist from Iowa has been tried, the RCFP said. Andrea Sahouri of the Monks Register was acquitted in March on charges of non-dispersal and interference with official acts. It was covering a demonstration last May.

Then-President Donald Trump tweeted a record 632 attacks on journalists in 2020, most of his presidency.

His successor, President Joe Biden, issued a statement on Monday marking World Press Freedom Day.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists and media professionals have been on the front lines to keep the public informed, at the risk of compromising their own health,” he said. “And, at a time when the truth is increasingly threatened, our need for accurate and factual reporting, open public conversations and accountability has never been greater.”

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