LANSING — Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) today introduced resolutions to denounce police violence against journalists and reaffirm the right of the free press to investigate and report on the police without intimidation or violent obstruction.
“Journalists are the fourth estate of our democracy — their work shines a light into the inner workings of government to hold public officials accountable,” Sen. Moss said. “The attacks by police on journalists during the Black Lives Matter protests are attacks on our democracy. This is right out of the playbook of authoritarian regimes — but we cannot tolerate that here as our Constitution places an emphasis to protect a free press. This resolution is a strong symbol of our unified voice against such criminal activity.”
During the first few nights of protests, the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press and MLive, respectively, reported police brutality against their reporters on the scene. MLive said their reporter was, “hit by as many as a dozen pellets in her face and body, leaving welts and narrowly missing an eye.” All reporters were carrying credentials and identified themselves before they were attacked.
“The American free press has long been the envy of the world — an ideal which the oppressed journalists of tin-pot dictatorships use as a source of constant inspiration,” Rep. Manoogian said. “What we have seen across the country during this resurgence of citizen democracy is nothing short of despicable. State-sanctioned violence by police against our free press is destructive to the democracy to which we have pledged ourselves. It is time for the Michigan Legislature to commit to every journalist, every editor, every cameraperson, and every producer that we unequivocally stand behind them and will not allow their First Amendment rights to fall by the wayside.”
The Press Freedom Tracker, a conglomerate of press freedom groups, has been tracking journalists impeded while documenting national protests since May 25, 2020. As of June 22, they have verified and documented more than 440 reported incidents between police and journalists across more than 60 cities, including more than 100 physical attacks and 94 incidents of police firing rubber bullets and other projectiles.
“The Michigan Press Association and our members are gravely concerned about the treatment journalists received in the early days of the protests in Michigan,” Lisa McGraw, Public Affairs Manager for the Michigan Press Association, added. “We truly appreciate the efforts of Representative Manoogian and Senator Moss to recognize the importance of what reporters do for the communities they serve.”