Statement on journalists stopped while covering protests

The Deadline Club
47 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003

June 5, 2020

Dermot F. Shea, Police Commissioner
New York Police Department Headquarters
1 Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Dear Commissioner Shea,

We denounce the behavior of officers assaulting or harassing journalists covering protests in New York City, including, but not limited to, Associated Press videojournalist Robert Bumsted and photographer Maye-E Wong who were shoved by police on Tuesday night. We urge you to call for restraint among your officers. In the course of their work, reporters and photographers are protected by the United States Constitution. We expect better, but we have faith that New York’s Finest will do better.

We are sickened by the senseless murder of George Floyd. It has sparked outrage around the world by laying bare that no matter the progress there remains a systemic imbalance of justice in our society. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd’s final plea, was etched on our collective memory six years ago after Eric Garner cried out the same words before he too was lost to an application of lethal force.

As the outrage and protest boil over into unrest, journalists will play their part to seek truth and report it. A free press has been a cornerstone of this American experiment. Exposing unjust behavior moves us closer to an equitable society—but we are not there yet. The press must continue their work with the freedom granted by the First Amendment.

Thank you for listening, and for your service to the citizens of our great city.

Sincerely,

Claire Regan, President
The Deadline Club, New York City Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists
And the Board of Directors

Bruce Cotler, President
New York Press Photographers Association
And the Board of Trustees

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