The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is questioning whether prosecutors are targeting a reporter, who has been charged with obstructing police while covering a story, in retaliation for her "long, distinguished history of exposing government irregularities and corruption," reports The Michigan Messenger.
Diane Bukowski, a freelance reporter for The Michigan Citizen, was arrested in November and now faces two felony counts of obstructing police officers while covering a fatal car wreck in Detroit. The Messenger reports Bukowski said she was arrested after photographing the scene of the crash, and that an officer took her camera and erased the pictures.
A motion to dismiss in Bukowski’s case was set to be heard Friday morning but has been postponed until March 20, the paper reports; trial is set for April 27.
In a brief to support Bukowski’s motion to drop the charges, the ACLU questioned whether "the First Amendment rights to freedom of the press are being abridged by a prosecution that is pursued for retaliatory or other improper purpose." The civil rights group also pointed out that Bukowski has reported on controversial police searches and on the refusal of a county prosecutor to look into police-involved killings, The Messenger said.
"Such perceptions and questions can chill journalists’ aggressive pursuit of information that the Constitution’s framers believed was essential to a healthy democracy," the ACLU said, according to The Messenger.
A Wayne County spokeswoman reportedly refuted that accusation, saying, "We do not bring charges to retaliate."