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Protect Our First Amendment Rights
Since the killing by police of Michael Brown in Ferguson nearly two years ago, protesters, witnesses, and victims of police brutality have increasingly taken to their phones to monitor and record police behavior, posting their videos on social media to shed light on the official narrative of events. Several individuals who have documented and publicized police violence against people of color have since alleged police harassment and retaliation. The First Amendment “prohibit[s] government officials from punish[ing] the dissemination of information relating to alleged governmental misconduct.” Police must be trained on the rights of citizen journalists, and these rights must be guaranteed to all.
Please, stand with PEN America, People Demanding Action, and the ACLU in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate this troubling trend of police retaliation against citizen journalists and enforce its policies on First Amendment rights.
To: U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Justice
Since the deadly shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, protesters, witnesses, and victims of police brutality have taken to their phones to monitor and record police behavior, posting their videos on social media to shed light on the “official” account of events. In many of these incidents, the individuals documenting the events later alleged that police had harassed them in retaliation.
We call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate these cases and issue recommendations to ensure that the First Amendment rights of citizen journalists are protected, to prevent police harassment and retaliation, and to train police officers on the rights of citizen journalists.
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