WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) today in announcing the introduction of a Senate resolution condemning attacks against members of the media and reaffirming the centrality of a free and independent press, and peaceful assembly to the health of democracy in the United States. The resolution comes in the wake of the arrest on June 29 of CNN reporters covering protests in Minnesota. This was just one of dozens of reported instances of journalists and photographers being roughly handled by police officers while covering nationwide protests, even after having identified themselves as members of the press before being mistreated.
“A free press is critical to our democracy. The media has played an important role in reporting on police brutality when it occurs, sharing the struggles of protestors and keeping Americans informed in these difficult times,” said Brown. “Journalists have the right to cover these stories – rights that are protected by the first amendment. And no public servant, from the President on down, should be working to limit those rights.”
The resolution reaffirms the commitment of the Senate to the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and peaceful assembly. It condemns violence committed against people of the United States exercising their right to free speech and peaceful assembly, including journalists and members of the media, whether that violence is committed by government officials or anyone else, and it condemns actions on the part of any local, state, or federal authorities to limit, restrict, or in any way prevent members of the media from performing their jobs. It also calls on local, state, and federal authorities to take steps to ensure that members of the media are able to safely perform their duties without interference, censorship, threats of violence, or physical harm and to explicitly exempt the news media from any curfew regulations. It also calls on officials to thoroughly investigate any instances of violence committed against the media, whether perpetrated by members of law enforcement or otherwise.
Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN America, and Freedom House have endorsed the resolution.
The resolution is also co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
A copy of the resolution can be read here.