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ACLU files suit on behalf of journalists in Minnesota

CNN's Sara Sidner describes an emotional scene as one of the brothers of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, visits the memorial site at the place of Floyd's death.

Posted: Jun 1, 2020 6:42 PM
Updated: Jun 3, 2020 10:15 AM


The American Civil Liberties Union says it is filing a class-action lawsuit and asking a Minnesota court to stop what it calls 'unconstitutional conduct targeting journalists.'

'The past week has been marked by an extraordinary escalation of unlawful force deliberately targeting reporters,' the ACLU says in Wednesday's filing.

The organization says it intends to file suits in other states, as well, since members of the media have been impacted in more than a dozen states as protestors take to the streets to demand justice for the death of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.

'We are facing a full-scale assault on the First Amendment freedom of the press,' Brian Hauss, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in a statement. 'We will not let these official abuses go unanswered. This is the first of many lawsuits the ACLU intends to file across the country. Law enforcement officers who target journalists will be held accountable.'

Reporters have been arrested by police from Florida to Nevada; pelted by police rubber bullets fired by police from Washington, D.C. to California; and attacked by protesters from Arizona to Pennsylvania. In one of the highest-profile examples, a CNN crew was briefly taken into custody on Friday by Minnesota State Police on live TV. The state's governor apologized for the wrongful arrest.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker said on Tuesday it has counted 211 'press freedom violations' since the start of the George Floyd protests last week, which in some cases have led to riots. The group's records show '33+ arrests, 143 assaults (118 by police, 25 by others), 35 equipment/newsroom damage' as of Tuesday night.

The huge number of infringements on the press is partly a reflection of the sheer scope of the unrest, but it also an indication of something sinister at work. Many of the affected journalists have said they felt targeted; in some instances video has clearly suggested that they were.

Some commentators have linked the widespread incidents to a wider climate of hostility against the media.

'In every case that we are aware of, there are strong indications that officers knew the journalist was a member of the press,' the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press stated in a letter to Minnesota authorities on Tuesday.

'Any targeting of reporters for doing their jobs -- keeping the public informed during an extraordinary period of civil unrest -- is beyond the pale in a free society,' the Reporters Committee said in a letter co-signed by 115 news outlets and other advocacy groups. CNN was one of the signatories.

This was the largest coalition to sign such a letter in the Reporters Committee's 50-year history. 'We'll be sending similar letters to other jurisdictions around the country,' a spokeswoman said.

  • The letter called for protocols 'to protect reporters and ensure the public is informed.' 'Instruct your officers and staff that the arrest or physical attack of a journalist who is compliant with reasonable police orders is a clearly established First Amendment violation.'

  • 'Take swift action to discipline any officer who is found to have arrested or assaulted a journalist engaged in newsgathering.'
  • 'Inform your officers that they themselves could be subject to legal liability for violating these rights.'

  • 'Ensure that crowd control tactics are appropriate and proportional, and are designed to prevent collateral harm to journalists covering the protests.

  • 'Continue to exempt members of the news media from mobility restrictions, including, and especially, curfews.'

  • 'Release all information about arrests of or physical interactions with the press to the public to allow it to evaluate the legitimacy of police conduct.'

The list may be a blueprint of sorts for other states, other police departments, and other crises. New accounts of reporters being restricted and manhandled poured in on Tuesday night as curfews were enforced in major cities.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
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Jefferson335685
White329753
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Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
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Perry186937
Rush175626
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Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107047

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284921459
Cuyahoga1155972204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524821040
Summit48339999
Lucas43303817
Butler38901603
Stark33286929
Lorain25641502
Warren24557303
Mahoning22330601
Lake21135385
Clermont20097252
Delaware18817135
Licking16645222
Fairfield16561204
Trumbull16522479
Medina15593270
Greene15252246
Clark14219306
Wood13280197
Portage13226214
Allen11905239
Richland11598211
Miami10835223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9020230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8649122
Marion8635138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7137179
Hancock6996131
Ross6933161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6528104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5436125
Darke5415129
Seneca5343126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387277
Preble3847103
Clinton378466
Ottawa372681
Highland359265
Williams347578
Champaign343658
Guernsey324153
Jackson317354
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2698101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196748
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
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Tuesday is another mostly sunny and comfortable day with a small chance of a stray afternoon shower or sprinkle.
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