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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pittsburgh newspaper union issues statement on Oakland arrests

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 7:56 AM

Last night, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh -- the union for newsroom employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- sent out a statement saying it was "deeply disturbed" by police actions in Oakland last Friday night. It calls for a "full independent investigation" into the night's events, and asks for charges to be dropped against those who were caught up in the police dragnet.

Among those arrested was a Guild member, P-G reporter Sadie Gurman (though the statement doesn't mention her by name).

The statement is printed below.

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents reporters, photographers, copy editors and artists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is deeply disturbed by the indiscriminate and inappropriate arrests of more than 100 protesters, bystanders and journalists on the night of Friday, Sept. 25 in Oakland.

Most disturbing is that many of those arrested were attempting to lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights of peaceful assembly and of press freedom, rights that are essential to the survival of democracy. Others were bystanders who found themselves caught between lines of police ordering them to disperse and then blocking their dispersal until they were arrested.

We recognize that the police, especially in situations such as this, have an extremely difficult job. But that fact does not give anyone the right to disregard the First Amendment.

The Newspaper Guild calls on the City of Pittsburgh to drop all charges against those who were lawfully exercising their rights as citizens and journalists, and those who were nonviolently attempting to comply with police orders but were taken to jail anyway.

Further, we call on the city to launch a full and independent investigation into the events that led to these arrests to ensure that such a debacle does not happen again in the name of law enforcement.

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