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Memo to Commissioner Outlaw on recent events regarding journalists

Memo to Commissioner Outlaw on recent events regarding journalists

Journalists have been arrested in Philly while covering protests this week. Here’s a letter local media outlets sent.

(Note: This letter was sent to Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Thursday.)

June 4, 2020

Dear Commissioner Outlaw:

We represent the newsroom leadership at the major broadcast, print, and digital news outlets in Philadelphia and the region. We are writing because we are collectively troubled by a series of recent incidents in which our journalists have been either unlawfully arrested and detained, physically impeded while reporting or, in some cases, restricted from covering protests that have erupted in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Despite identifying themselves as journalists and showing their press credentials, journalists have been harassed by police, arrested and, in some cases, not read their rights. One reporter was put in a van and his mask was removed. He is now under quarantine. Another reporter, a former Pulitzer Prize-winner, prominently displayed her press credentials yet was handcuffed, detained and driven off to a police station. While we fully understand the difficulties that these protests pose for your officers, we cannot accept the unlawful treatment of our journalists.

As set forth in the First Amendment, a free and independent press is essential for a functional democracy. Which is why journalists have been deemed essential by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as the neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware.

We all seek to fulfill our duty to inform the people of Philadelphia without fear or favor. So while we are encouraged that you reportedly reminded officers that “the press are not only entitled to access, they have a right to it,” we are appealing directly to you as the Commissioner to ensure that our constitutional rights as journalists are truly protected each and every day.

Stan Wischnowski, Executive Editor/Senior Vice President, The Philadelphia Inquirer                                                              

Sandra Clark, Vice President for News and Civic Dialogue, WHYY                                                                                                    

Anzio M. Williams, Vice President of News

Alex Silverman, Brand Manager/Program Director, KYW Newsradio, Entercom/Philadelphia

Sara Lomax Reese, President & CEO
WURD Radio

John Wilson, Vice President / News Director
CBS3 & THE CW PHILLY                                    

Irv Randolph, Managing Editor, The Philadelphia Tribune                                             

Roxanne Patel Shepelavy, Executive Editor/Co-Executive Director; The Philadelphia Citizen                                                                

Jess Bryant, Editor-in-chief, Philadelphia Gay News

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, Co-Executive Director, Resolve Philly                                                                                                                   

Jillian Bauer-Reese, Editor, Kensington Voice                                                                              

Dale Mezzacappa, Contributing Editor, The Notebook

Sabrina Vourvoulias, Editor, Generocity    

Julie Hancher, Co-founder/Editor, Green Philly                                                                  

Julie Zeglen, Managing Editor,

Martin Pratt, Publisher, Philly Your Black News                                               

The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists  

Melissa Mitman, Editor, Metro Philadelphia Newspaper

Mike Rispoli, Director, Free Press New Voices

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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