The Newspaper Guild (TNG) president Bernie Lunzer sent a letter on Monday to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Police Chief Michael Meehan that expressed outrage about the brutal treatment that several journalists suffered at the hands of law enforcement officers during protests in Berkeley over the weekend. Demonstrators had gathered in the traditionally progressive city to protest the grand jury verdicts in New York and Ferguson that exonerated police that killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both African American males.
President Lunzer defended free speech rights and the public’s right to know, citing the importance of journalists’ rights to do their work in the midst of demonstrations and the resulting police activity. Lunzer pointed out that TNG, in collaboration with other news organizations, has been involved in setting policy for law enforcement personnel in other cities, including Oakland, about the treatment of the press during critical times.
“We have worked successfully in the past with other cities, including Oakland, to put in place policies that ensure appropriate response to the presentation of a press badge, including mandatory briefing on press rights for officers called in as mutual aid during times of crisis,” wrote Lunzer.
If anyone would like to be a part of this dialogue with Berkeley leaders, please contact Guild Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens at 510-332- 9483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.