For immediate release
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists calls on East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden and local prosecutors to immediately drop charges against journalists arrested while covering the Alton Sterling protests.
According to The Advocate, at least three journalists were arrested while covering the protests in Baton Rouge, joining the scores of other people arrested while exercising their right to assemble.
“While it is clear that law enforcement officials have a job to do, journalists must also be able to exercise their right to report on issues affecting the public,” said Sergy Odiduro, president of the statewide chapter.
“The right of the freedom of the press, which is so faithfully enshrined in our Constitution, should not be trampled on by overzealous law enforcement officials. In order to keep our citizenry informed, it is imperative that journalists be allowed to conduct their jobs without interference.”
Dr. Robert Buckman, faculty adviser of the SPJ student chapter at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and board member for the statewide chapter, agrees.
“SPJ acknowledges that the Baton Rouge police have been under tremendous stress these past few days,” Buckman said. “We believe, however, they should be able to distinguish between protesters willfully blocking a roadway and journalists performing their responsibilities to inform the public of an event of national importance.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.
For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.
Louisiana’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, established in 2015, aims to foster educational and networking opportunities for the state’s media professionals while promoting the exercise of free speech and a free press.