Killing the messenger: Police shouldn’t arrest journalists


Mike Alfieri

Mike Alfieri, Staff member

BART protesters and other bystanders must have pulled the card marked ‘go directly to jail.’

On Monday, Aug. 22, fellow Inquirer reporter Brian Donovan was arrested with 34 other people.

Donovan and I were covering the protest as student journalists while trying to see if a DVC student group was present.

And, even though he identified himself as a journalist, Donovan ended up in restraints.

Journalists often find themselves in dangerous or life-threatening situations, a necessary sacrifice when the accountability of being the public’s watchdog falls in your lap.

This responsiblity is so important that freedom of the press is protected under the First Amendment, as are freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

That didn’t stop the police from violating all three of these rights.

Police have abused their power while on duty from tasing a 72-year-old grandmother in Austin, Texas, to a NYPD officer who was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman at gunpoint in August.

The San Francisco Police Department would say the arrests were for failing to comply with peace officers’ orders and delaying traffic.

I heard no orders to disperse, and there was sparse traffic on the street behind the main library.

In fact, the only dispersal order was given hours earlier and was aimed at getting protesters out of the street and onto the sidewalk.

Many of the protesters happened to be on the sidewalk including Donovan, when the mass arrest occurred.

What I witnessed was a blatant denial of rights without cause, a hectic few minutes when police swarmed and cornered anybody they could, even a man in a wheelchair.

In addition to the arrests, there was an obvious attempt to censor news coverage.

One officer, in particular, drove up and down the street in a police SUV to try to block my photographs of the arrests.

Also, an officer told me that I couldn’t shoot photos in BART without a permit.

It’s a travesty of justice when people’s rights are disregarded

It is a grave danger to us all when people can’t get current news because of media censorship.