An incident in Los Angeles this weekend makes it disturbingly clear that not only are the police eager to use violence against journalists there to document the violence they inflict on peaceful protesters, they will also lie about it without a second thought.
On Saturday night, LA County Sheriff deputies brutally tackled NPR-affiliate KPCC reporter Josie Huang to the ground and arrested her, entirely ignoring her protests that she was a journalist and leaving her with scrapes and bruises. They held her in custody for five hours and hit her with an obstruction charge that could lead to a year in prison.
The police say that Huang didn’t have credentials and ignored their demands to leave the area, but unsurprisingly, video evidence recorded by Huang shows that they are lying.
Somehow I was able to start a new video right away. You see my phone clatter to the ground and I start shouting “I’m a reporter…I’m with KPCC.” I scream for help from the TV reporters I know are around the corner doing their 11 p.m. live hits pic.twitter.com/O9CZNuSrQI
— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) September 13, 2020
As the president has demonized the press, so too have the police begun treating them like the enemy.
Since the murder of George Floyd, American riot police have been observed deliberately targeting journalists at least 382 times with arrest or assault during the protests, punishing them for recording their actions for the world to see. Minneapolis police even blinded a reporter by shooting her in the eye with a rubber bullet.
Incidents like this make it clear that nothing the police say can ever be taken at face value. It is a simple fact of life in America that the police are routinely dishonest about everything and that lying is a fundamental part of police culture, which is a reason the cops are so hostile towards the press and can never be counted on to have their body cams running when it is needed the most.
Everywhere, casually and under oath, all the time. And face no consequences. https://t.co/ghGlqPCWlu
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) September 13, 2020
It is very disturbing to see the police abuse their power to repress our free press and treat our journalists with such naked contempt and hostility, yet more evidence that substantial reform and defunding is desperately needed to fix the crisis of fascistic authoritarianism in American law enforcement.