St. Paul prosecutors said this week they are dropping charges against journalists cited in September for unlawful assembly outside the Republican National Convention – but they need to know who the affected journalists are.
So far, the city attorney’s office says it has reviewed 35 citations against reporters and dropped every one in which the person’s status as a journalist – “broadly defined” – was confirmed, and where no other charges were involved. City Attorney John Choi said Monday that he believes there may be additional journalists who may eligible to have the charges against them dropped. He urged them to contact his office for expedited handling of their cases.
According to various media reports, there probably were more than 35 journalists who meet those criteria; the Minnesota Independent, for instance, has counted at least 46 reporters detained during the convention.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which was swift to condemn the police that week for citing journalists who were swept up in the mass arrests of protesters, urges any affected reporter who has not already been notified that charges are being dropped to call Deputy City Attorney Therese Skarda at (651) 266-8740, or send a fax to (651) 298-5532. Be prepared to give your name, address and date of birth; your case number; the date you were arrested; and proof you are a journalist.
Choi says he will decline to prosecute any verified journalist against whom there were no other “specific allegations” than unlawful assembly.
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.