SAG-AFTRA Condemns Police Assault on Louisville Journalists Protecting Protest

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SAG-AFTRA is condemning a Friday night time assault by a police officer on two of its member journalists who had been overlaying a protest in Louisville, Ky.

“Final night time, a Louisville, KY police officer aimed and fired pepper balls at WAVE3 Information reporter Kaitlin Rust and photographer James Dobson,” the union stated Saturday. “Rust and Dobson are skilled journalists represented by SAG-AFTRA who had been on project overlaying protests arising out of the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.”

“When the officer fired on them, they had been following police directions, behind police traces, and weren’t interfering with police exercise,” SAG-AFTRA added. “Each Rust and Dobson had been clearly in efficiency of their duties as journalists. They had been carrying skilled manufacturing tools and Rust was carrying a shiny yellow reflective vest.”

Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Division officers on March 13 at her condo in Louisville whereas officers had been serving a “no-knock warrant.” Floyd died on Might 25 after a Minneapolis police workplace was captured on video urgent his knee into Floyd’s neck because the handcuffed 46-year-old Floyd repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe.”

On Friday night time as WAVE-TV was on air, Rust was heard yelling off-camera: “I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot!” Video confirmed a police officer aiming straight on the digital camera crew, as Rust described the projectiles as “pepper bullets.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Louisville police spokeswoman Jessie Halladay had apologized for the assault: “I wish to apologize. It’s not one thing that ought to have occurred if she was singled out as a reporter.”

SAG-AFTRA stated, “SAG-AFTRA condemns the reprehensible actions of this police officer who, with out provocation or justification, fired upon journalists who had been doing their jobs. The assault additionally had a traumatizing impact on viewers at residence who watched the officer goal and fireplace repeatedly throughout the reside broadcast. This was a brazen assault on two unarmed residents. It is usually an assault on our democracy and the folks’s proper to know the way these on whom we confer energy are utilizing that energy.”

“Whether or not perpetrated by the general public or by the state, acts of violence on journalists bringing information to the communities they serve are a betrayal of our nation’s founding precept {that a} free press is critical for the upkeep of a free authorities.  ​As residents of this democratic nation, and as a labor union representing broadcast journalists and different media professionals, SAG-AFTRA unequivocally champions the First Modification rights of journalists to collect data and report the reality. We stand with any journalist who finds his or her skill to report on our authorities challenged or compromised.”

Right here’s video of the incident:

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