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RCFP urges California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign bill that would protect journalists covering protests

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  1. Newsgathering

Update (Oct. 1, 2020): On Sept. 30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed S.B. 629, which would have strengthened protections for journalists and helped prevent incidents like the recent arrest of KPCC reporter Josie Huang while she was covering a protest.

“We’re disappointed that Governor Newsom vetoed the bill, which would have codified protections preventing law enforcement from intentionally assaulting, interfering with or obstructing members of the media who are lawfully engaged in newsgathering during protests,” said  Gabe Rottman, director of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee. “Reporters who are covering protests are providing critical information to the public about what is happening, and recent actions by law enforcement to interfere with First Amendment protected activities are disturbing. We are ready to work with legislators and the governor to address his concerns while ensuring that journalists have the protections they need to do their jobs.”

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign SB 629, a bill that would codify certain existing federal and state constitutional protections for newsgathering.

The Reporters Committee’s Sept. 29 letter to the governor comes in the wake of recent attacks against journalists, including the violent arrest of KPCC reporter Josie Huang. The letter emphasizes the importance of SB 629, which would prevent law enforcement from intentionally assaulting, interfering with or obstructing members of the media who are lawfully engaged in newsgathering during protests.

“The legislation is a concrete step that would help prevent future incidents like Ms. Huang’s arrest,” the letter states.

The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill.