The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 24 media organizations are calling on New York City officials to dismiss charges against a photographer who was tackled by multiple police officers, arrested and charged with obstructing traffic as she reported on a recent demonstration.
Chae Kihn, an independent photographer, was complying with law enforcement’s orders to move to the sidewalk when several officers tackled her to the ground. In a video of the incident, demonstrators can be heard yelling “She’s press” as officers arrest her. Yet the New York Police Department initially claimed that Kihn was not a member of the press because she was not “NYPD credentialed.”
In a Nov. 6 letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, the Reporters Committee highlighted that “the newsgathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials and status.” The press and members of the public have a constitutional right to document police activity in public, and officers who violate that right are not entitled to legal immunity.
The Reporters Committee is urging the NYPD to offer a public explanation of why Kihn was arrested and why the department originally claimed that no member of the press had been detained. Earlier this week, the Reporters Committee opposed a similar arrest of journalist Tomas Murawski, who was arrested while reporting on a demonstration in North Carolina.