RCFP urges dismissal of prosecution of Oregon journalist
Updates: On Oct. 14, 2021, Medford City Attorney Eric Mitton responded to the Reporters Committee’s letter, suggesting that RCFP’s recitation of the facts and our views regarding the First Amendment might somehow prejudice Ehrlich’s right to a fair trial. Reporters Committee attorneys responded to Mitton in a second letter sent on Oct. 20, 2021, reiterating the media coalition’s request that the city dismiss the pending charges with prejudice and addressing his misunderstanding about the coalition’s recitation of the facts.
In advance of a September 2022 trial, the Reporters Committee and a coalition of 52 news media organizations submitted a third letter in support of Ehrlich on Aug. 12, 2022, once again urging the dismissal of trespass charges against her. The letter to the Medford Municipal Court argues, among other things, that the First Amendment protects the right of the press and public to document government operations, including encampment sweeps. In August 2022, a judge dismissed all charges against Ehrlich.
On Oct. 12, 2021, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 48 media organizations called on the city of Medford, Oregon, to drop all charges against April Ehrlich, a journalist for the National Public Radio member station Jefferson Public Radio, who was arrested and charged with trespass and resisting arrest while she was reporting on police removal of houseless campers from a public park.
The letter urges the Acting City Attorney to take immediate action to dismiss the charges against her because Ehrlich was engaged in lawful newsgathering protected by the First Amendment when she was arrested and charged with misdemeanor crimes. The Reporters Committee is asking that the City of Medford take steps to prevent another incident like this from occurring again.
Journalists who have questions or are in need of legal assistance can contact the Reporters Committee’s hotline at 800-336-4243 or via our online form. Journalists can also consult the Reporters Committee’s guide to covering protests and tip sheet for more information on their rights.
The Reporters Committee is also a partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which is documenting assaults, arrests, equipment searches and seizures, and other incidents targeting journalists reporting on demonstrations. If you are a journalist or know of one who has experienced such an incident in the course of covering a protest, email email@example.com.
Aug. 12, 2022, letter:
Oct. 20, 2021, letter:
Oct 11, 2021, letter: