Ban against reporters arrested during air base protest rescinded
MARYLAND–In late June, Andrews Air Force Base lifted a bar imposed on two Pacifica radio reporters after receiving requests from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and the reporters’ attorney to reconsider the order.
John Crigler, the attorney representing “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goldman and producer Jeremy Scahill, who were arrested while covering a protest at Andrews Air Force Base in mid-May, said that the four sentence letter from the Air Force is “as close to a military apology as you can get.”
The rescindment was sent in late June, less than two weeks after Lofgren sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force describing herself as “dismayed” over how the reporters were allegedly treated by base authorities. “It appears that their rights as citizens and journalists were violated,” Lofgren wrote in the letter.
The reporters were banned from returning to Andrews after an incident on the final day of an open house, an event attended by more than 750,000 people over a three-day period. The journalists were interviewing the pilot of a B-52 bomber when a small group of anti-nuclear activists calling themselves the Gods of Metal Plowshares began to beat the plane with hammers and throw blood on it. Goodman began to interview the protesters. When soldiers arrived to detain the protesters, the two journalists, who, according to Goodman, were wearing press badges, were also arrested.
Goodman said that she and Scahill were detained, handcuffed, held for six hours without access to a telephone and threatened with further detention. Air Force authorities confiscated all tape of the protest and issued Letters of Expulsion, barring the journalists from returning to the base for two years, based upon a charge of disorderly conduct and damage to government property.
In late May, Pacifica’s attorneys persuaded the government to release the confiscated tapes, and they were broadcast on a “Democracy Now!” show. (Media Counsel: John Crigler, Arlington)